Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 88

Privacy, Personalization, and
Presentation in Bedroom Spaces:
Examining the Role of Residence Halls
for Undergraduate Students
BELONGING IS ESSENTIAL FOR COLLEGE STUDENT SUCCESS, yet little

is known about how residence hall spaces affect this experience. This article reports
on selected findings from a multi-year research project that aims to understand the
multiple uses, experiences, and meanings of spaces in the residence halls. Qualitative
analysis of student-created photo journals, interviews, and focus groups indicate that
residents' bedrooms play a critical role in their collegiate experience. In particular,
we found that students engage in the processes of creating privacy, personalizing
their space, and shaping a presentation of themselves through their bedrooms and
bed areas as a reflection of their sense of belonging. Findings from this study can
inform the design of student life programming to more effectively support students in
personalizing their residence hall spaces in order to enhance student belonging.
Note: This project was funded by a research grant from ACUHO-I.

E

xisting research has identified belonging as essential for college student success (Bowman, 2010; Hoffman et al.,
2002; Strayhorn, 2008, 2019). According to
Strayhorn (2019), belonging is the " degree to
which an individual feels respected, valued,
accepted, and needed by a defined group "
(p. 4). College students' sense of belonging
refers specifically to " the individual's view of
whether he or she feels included in the college community " (Hurtado & Carter, 1997,
p. 327). Student belonging is strongly correlated with persistence, engagement, academic achievement, and overall well-being
(Astin, 1993; Hurtado & Carter, 1997; John-

son et al., 2007). Though higher education
scholars have also recognized that campus
environments affect behavior by facilitating
certain kinds of activities and hindering others (e.g., Kuh et al., 2006; Strange & Banning, 2001), there currently is limited information about how specific campus spaces
affect the development of student belonging.
Addressing this need, this article aims to
deepen understandings of the relationship
between student belonging and an important campus space: residence halls.
	
On-campus student housing is a critical
space that warrants serious consideration
due to its influence on both college choice

Volume 47, No. 2 * 2021

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Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2

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