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. . . students expect a college education to serve as an investment
in the development of employability skills that can help them secure
a job upon graduation.
RELEVANCE AND PURPOSE
While some studies have examined the relationship between the attainment of NACE
competencies and various aspects of the cocurricular experience (Massaro, 2019; Peck
et al., 2016), to our knowledge this is the first study of how a college residential environment
may facilitate experiences with these competencies. Fellow scholars have
identified the need to further examine the impact of the cocurricular experience on
NACE competency development in saying that they " would like to encourage scholar
practitioners in both fields to conduct research on this topic " (Cramp et al., 2015,
p. 20). Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to understand how students
describe their experiences with NACE competencies within residential life.
METHOD
Design
We utilized a constructivist, qualitative, phenomenological study design (Creswell &
Creswell, 2017; Lincoln & Guba, 1985) to examine the self-reported development of
NACE competencies in residential life. Honebein (1996) described the constructivism
paradigm with an assertion that people construct their own understanding and knowledge
of the world through having and reflecting on experiences. Its foundation stems
from the belief that people form or construct much of what they learn through experience
(Cashman et al., 2008; Hein, 1991). Thus, to the constructivist in us, constructing
meaning is learning; there is no other kind.
Setting and Sample
The research site is a medium-sized private university in the southern United States
that enforces a 2-year live-on policy. The research site operationalizes a residential college
model and houses roughly 3,000 students (Southern Methodist University, 2022).
After approval was received by the site's Institutional Review Board, a roster method
(Marsden, 1990) was applied by the research team to identify all on-campus residents
during the spring 2021 semester. We utilized the tailored design method (Dillman et al.,
2014) to send a series of up to three emails to recruit study participants. They were invited
to complete a survey about NACE competencies and were given the opportunity
to participate in a semi-structured interview at the conclusion of the survey. A raffle of
incentives was offered to complete the survey, including a streaming device, wireless
headphones, and a coffee maker. A raffle for one $50 retail gift card was offered to
participants who completed an hour-long interview. A total of 339 of the 2,563 invited
individuals responded to the survey, for a response rate of 13%. Table 1 (see page 36)
displays characteristics of the identified population (e.g., all residential students) and
the survey sample.
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