Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 89

Residence Halls and Student Belonging

(Amole, 2009; La Roche et al., 2010) and the
student experience (Arboleda et al., 2003;
Reynolds, 2007; Strayhorn, 2008). The literature highlights important connections
between living in residence halls and both
student involvement and belonging (e.g., Arboleda et al., 2003; Suhlmann et al., 2018)
and between residence hall climate and the
development of student relationships, community, and belonging (e.g., Berger, 1997;
Garvey et al., 2018; Kaya, 2004; Pascarella et
al., 1994; Strayhorn, 2008).
	
Specifically, living on campus during the
first year in college has a significant positive
effect on peer belonging (Ribera et al., 2017).
The residential space contributes to students'
sense of belonging by helping them build
relationships with others (Spanierman et
al., 2013), and the intensity and closeness of
these relationships affect their sense of being
valued and accepted (Johnson et al., 2007).
Moreover, students who are more satisfied
with their residence hall are more likely to become involved with others, which in turn can
help them academically and socially (Arboleda et al., 2003). Living-learning communities (LLCs), in particular, provide leadership
opportunities and multicultural experiences
that contribute to improved social and academic support (Spanierman et al., 2013).
	
Research on college and university housing indicates that residence halls contribute
to student identity and advance student sense
of belonging (e.g., Clemons et al., 2005;
Holton & Riley, 2016; Hurtado & Carter,
1997) in a variety of ways. The extent to which

students feel like they fit within the university
environment affects their well-being, motivation, and retention (Suhlmann et al., 2018),
and the opportunity to personalize their residential space can lead to other positive outcomes (Clemons et al., 2005; Poggio et al.,
2013) such as a sense of belonging, retention,
and higher GPAs (Clemons et al., 2005).
	
Scholars have identified the residential
experience as an important means to facilitate growth in many areas of student life, including improved relationships and a stronger sense of belonging (Arboleda et al., 2003;
Johnson et al., 2007; Ribera et al., 2017; Spanierman et al., 2013). However, research on belonging in residence halls tends to focus on
the space in general, with positive or negative
student outcomes based upon their degree of
belonging in this space. What still is needed
is a clearer understanding of specific physical
spaces within residence halls that contribute
to student belonging and other positive outcomes. Specifically, how does the built environment and amenities in residence halls
lead to a greater sense of belonging for residents? What occurs in residential spaces that
may facilitate belonging and connectedness
that is different from what is experienced in
other campus spaces? More information and
clarity are needed to gain a better understanding of residence hall space and its impact on
students' sense of belonging. The present
study seeks to address these gaps in the literature by examining how students engage in
belonging in specific residential spaces.

The residential space contributes to students' sense of
belonging by helping them build relationships with others,
and the intensity and closeness of these relationships affect
their sense of being valued and accepted.

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