The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - 51

Chris Heasley * Katie Boone * Denise L. Davidson

Students' Sense of Community

social growth through community development, we know little about how the lived experiences of residents vary in campus housing.
Further, insufficient attention has been given
to examining the apparent correlation between
student outcomes and lived experiences in oncampus housing (Devlin et al., 2008). Moreover, there is a dearth of scholarly work that
directly compares campus residences and P3
housing in relation to SOC outcomes. With the
growth of P3s on college and university campuses, it is important to explore the differences
in these outcomes.
This study relied on the concept of sense
of community as "a feeling that members have
of belonging, a feeling that members matter
to one another and to the group, and a shared

faith that members' needs will be met through
their commitment to be together" (McMillan &
Chavis, 1986, p. 9). Operationally, SOC is composed of four elements: membership, influence,
integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared
emotional connection (see Figure 1).

While many factors contribute to

McMillan and Chavis (1986) posited
that membership, the first element of SOC,
has boundaries that differentiate those who
belong from those who do not, which enables
members to be emotionally vulnerable and
invested within the community. Influence is a
reciprocal relationship that provides a sense of
mattering; members feel they are contributing
to the community, while the community also
influences members. As a cornerstone to behavioral research, this reinforcement serves
as a motivator for behavior and is required

staff on residents' development

	 Figure 1
	 Sense of Community Theoretical Model

sense of community, the impact
of influence and shared emotional
connection from paraprofessional
remains paramount.

to maintain a sense of togetherness. Status,
competence (i.e., knowledge that can benefit
the group in some way), and shared values are
measurable outcomes to determine the third
element, integration and fulfillment of needs. The
last element is shared emotional connection, the
"commitment and belief that members have
shared and will share history, common places,
time together, and similar experiences" (McMillan & Chavis, 1986, p. 9). In combination,
these elements can enhance one's connection
to others and to the residential space.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

SOC

Note: Four elements comprise SOC within the theoretical framework employed for this study. These elements are membership, influence, reinforcement of needs, and shared emotional connection, which are measured using the SCI-2. This survey uses a series of questions dedicated
to exploring each of the four elements of the construct. Statistical analysis through comparing mean scores for participating campus residence
hall and P3 residents was completed for this study.
50

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING

Research suggests exploring sense of community in order to create environments that
enhance positive experiences and support
college students' developmental needs (Dittoe
& Porter, 2007; Heasley, 2013; Heasley et al.,
2015). Although newly developed P3 student
accommodations may provide an attractive
alternative to university-owned and managed
residences, little is known about students' experiences within these facilities, especially in
comparison to more traditional university accommodations (McClure et al., 2017). University administrators considering a partnership
with a P3 developer may find this study to be

particularly relevant, as such projects are often
used to promote campus connectedness, offset
operational costs, and positively influence
student recruitment and retention.
Differences in SOC outcomes of college students based on their lived experience in campus
residences versus P3 housing were investigated
in this study along with factors influencing students' perceived sense of community. We examined two central research questions.
1.	 Are there differences in students' SOC
based on experiences in a campus
residence versus P3-developed housing?
2.	 What factors influenced students'
perceived SOC within each of the
aforementioned design types?

METHODOLOGY
This study was guided by the use of SOC
(McMillan & Chavis, 1986) as a theoretical
framework and applied a mixed methodological comparative analysis (Creswell, Clark,
Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003). For the quantitative portion, a deductive theoretical approach
(Morse, 2003) was applied, followed by a qualitative multiple case study design. Creswell et
al. (2003) termed this mixed method model a
sequential explanatory design, wherein gathering and analyzing qualitative materials follow
quantitative data collection and analysis. Qualitative analysis then provides an opportunity to
investigate, via narrative inquiry, any quantitative differences. Accordingly, and to narrow
the foci of inquiry, the quantitative methodology was purposely executed before collecting
qualitative data. This intentional sequencing of
analysis enabled the researchers to answer the
first research question (is there a difference in
SOC between residence type) before exploring
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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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