Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - 88

Quality of Life
strengthen their understandings of the respondents' experiences, while also generating
insight into the subtle impact of the role on students' professional quality of life.
This study was exploratory in nature and does contain some limitations. Therefore,
the results should be viewed cautiously and from a specific context. First, because
of the convenience sampling, the study may not reflect the experiences of other
RAs at larger or smaller academic institutions, those working in the same role but
whose academic institution is in a suburban or urban geographic area, or those in
other regions of the world where they are immersed in other social and cultural contexts.
Second, the nature of this study is best characterized as program evaluation
research with an emphasis on the impact of the experience. Thus, the research design
did not control for the threats to internal validity. As a result, other factors could
have influenced the dependent variable. For example, the study was not able to assess
respondents' prior trauma history or how that history might have had an impact on
the three ProQOL sub-scales. Third, the purpose of this study was to explore for determining
the ProQOL for RAs. Therefore, we did not pair each RA's responses on
the pre-test to their responses on the post-test. This step is necessary in order to be
able to conduct more accurate pre- and post-tests. Future studies could assign each
RA's unique depersonalized identifier such as an ID number.
Lastly, the study could not determine or account for a dosage effect associated with
traumatic events. Due to the confidential nature of incident reports, this study could not
determine if RAs who experience a greater volume of stress-inducing situations might
equate to higher levels of compassion fatigue, burnout, and/or secondary traumatic
stress or if the type of conduct violation or behavioral incident experienced might equate
to differences in scores across compassion fatigue, burnout, or secondary traumatic
stress. These limitations are fruitful considerations for future research.
CONCLUSION
The role of the resident assistant has significantly changed since its inception. No longer
is the general focus on social programming or even confronting underage alcohol
consumption. Today's RAs are often the first responders to reports of sexual misconduct,
financial strain that may prevent a student from staying in school, physical abuse,
suicide ideation, and other critical manifestations of mental illness. While the position
provides countless benefits to its employees, to make it sustainable, research needs to
be done to determine what supports and trainings are most beneficial to RAs.
As stated earlier, this research sought to explore the impact of the RA position
on those student employees filling the role. Specifically investigated were compassion
satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. The research shows both the
positive and negative impacts of the position. RAs expressed an increase in both feelings
of self-worth and disconnect. Qualitative data show that RAs value getting to know
their residents on a deeper level and helping them connect to the campus community.
Conversely, RAs felt disconnected when they felt residents did not need them, when
they had to confront behavioral issues, or when faced with negative perceptions by
others in the RA position.
88 The Journal of College and University Student Housing

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - intro
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