The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - 103

Deborah Worley

CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES
ON COMMUNITY IN-RESIDENCE
Since Beamer's (1974) publication, frameworks to structure community formation and
to facilitate sense of community continue to
evolve and expand. Three approaches are outlined here: an institutional, purpose-driven approach to social integration; outcomes-based
models; and an inclusive approach to community development.

A Purpose-Driven Approach to
Social Integration
Berger (1997) operationalized a sense of community by focusing on the roles that identity,
interaction, and solidarity play in facilitating
social integration for students in residence hall
environments. These aspects are similar in
scope to Beamer's (1974) notions of community, but they trend toward a more action-oriented approach to community formation and
emotional connectedness. Scholars studied
this trend in recent years in relation to social
integration in residence hall communities
as a necessary component of student persistence (Braxton, Hirschy & McLendon, 2004;
Braxton et al., 2014). More specifically, studies
by Braxton et al. (2014) indicated that relationships with peers, particularly for students
who live on campus, ease the adjustment to
college and positively correlate with student
persistence.
Purposeful social integration in residence
hall environments is manifested in practice
through intentional programming that is designed to facilitate development of personal
identity and values, notions that are present
in Beamer's (1974) framework. For example,
McCarty, Mullins, Geller, and Shushok (2013)
102

Community in Retrospect

set out to "promote quality relationships in
a residence hall" (p. 376) by implementing
principles from the Actively Caring for People
(AC4P) program. The goal of this program
was to aid students in developing friendships
"based on goodness through dialogue and recognition" (p. 376). First, students were asked
to individually respond to questions such
as "What do you care about?" and "What do
you care deeply about that most people don't
know?" (p. 376). McCarty et al. found that students identified the roots of misperceptions in
"surface-level . . . friendships based on pleasure and utility" (p. 377). At the end of the activity, facilitators gave students a wristband that
had instructions and reminders about how to
observe and note others' caring behaviors on
campus. Students who participated in the residential-based AC4P program left with a clear
understanding of purpose-driven relationships
and the importance of recognizing good and
decent acts of others.

Outcomes-Based Models
More recently, community-building has shifted
to an outcomes-based model (e.g., Bronkema
& Bowman, 2017; Inkelas & Weisman, 2003),
where assessment of student learning is used to
guide community formation in residence halls
and, ultimately, to gauge the health and success
of housing programs. This model strays from
the focus on how community is defined, but
the end goal-what we want students to learn,
know, or achieve as a result of being members
of our communities-aligns with Beamer's
(1974) description of developmental socialization. Outcomes-based models assume that
growth and developmental change is desirable
for students, a sentiment that was shared by
Beamer in 1974. He framed his discussion of

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING

challenge and support as a critical component
of community development in residential settings in this way: "Everyone gains comfort, at
least for a time, by performing familiar acts.
It is true development to stretch the personal
field of awareness" (p. 35). Students meet socialization outcomes by extending themselves
between and beyond comfort zones.

& Noonan, 2007) and the feelings gained from
connections with others (McMillan & Chavis,
1986). Beamer's (1974) notion of group living
can be applied here to represent the physical territory-the residence hall setting-that
serves as the environment in which these relationships and feelings of connectedness are
formed and fostered.

An outcomes-based approach to community recognizes that student learning
takes place in and out of a traditional college
classroom. There are learning objectives at
the building-level programs and assessment
plans at the departmental level. In this model,
the focus is on the effectiveness of residence
life as a functional area. This approach reflects increased emphasis on accountability in
higher education and the use of measurable
outcomes as directed by standards (Jacoby &
Dean, 2010).

According to Strayhorn (2019), sense of belonging is of great importance to students in
specific sub-sections of the collegiate environment, such as residence halls, and there are
both positive and negative outcomes. Johnson
et al. (2007) found that residence hall arrangements, along with campus climate and social
aspects of the collegiate experience, were significant predictors of sense of belonging for
first-year students. Strayhorn and Mullins
(2012) found that for Black male undergraduate students, sense of belonging in certain
contexts (including residence halls) led to an
array of positive outcomes, such as a smoother
adjustment to college, better academic performance, confidence to take on leadership roles,
and overall satisfaction rates with the college
experience. Means and Pyne (2017) observed
that some low-income, first-generation, firstyear students developed self-confidence as well
as a strong sense of social belonging as a result
of living on campus. However, others in their
study experienced tension in response to rules
and policies in their halls, and some students
observed a general lack of respect from others
for physical space, personal property, and
peers. Garvey, Guyotte, Latopolski, Sanders,
and Flint (2018) used Strayhorn's framework to
guide a study about sense of belonging across
race and gender for first-year college students
in residential settings. They found that White

An Inclusive Approach to Community
Development
The notion of community has been further reconsidered to focus on inclusion and a sense
of belonging for students who live on campus.
This discourse is framed by Strayhorn's (2011,
2019) work, which defines sense of belonging as
. . . students' perceived social support
on campus, a feeling or sensation of
connectedness, and the experience of
mattering or feeling cared about, accepted,
respected, valued by, and important to the
campus community or others on campus such
as faculty, staff, and peers. (2019, p. 4)
In this model, sense of belonging emphasizes
two components of the contemporary definition of community: the relationships between
people that connect them to one another (Goe

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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - Intro
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