The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - 71

Phia S. Salter * Dustin K. Grabsch * Jaren D. Crist * Jagadesh Lagisetty * Lane B. Dyer * Estephanie Olvera

spaces nestled within the residential living
experience.

RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
Two frameworks informed this research. The
primary framework comes from Charles Robert
Pace (1963), who designed and administered
one of the earliest environmental assessment
measures. The College and University Environment Scale (CUES) was designed to capture the
environmental context and the "intellectualsocial-cultural climate of the college as students
see it" (Pace, 1963, p. 2). This scale aims to describe the major features of the college or university environment as a whole. Pace believed
that "the effectiveness of programs and institutions should be viewed in relation to all of their
objectives" (1963, p. 5). Thus, both academic and
personality-like features of the college environment can shape the impression made and the
impact had on students. The original measure
consisted of 150 questions, organized into five
dimensions of the college environment: practicality, community, awareness, propriety, and
scholarship. The first dimension focuses on the
everyday, practical benefits of the environment,
emphasizing the instrumental function in the
college environment. The community dimension emphasizes a congenial atmosphere and
describes a friendly campus with a feeling of
social cohesion that encompasses the college
environment as a whole. Awareness can be
considered a drive toward self-expansion, selfexpression, and enrichment. This dimension
emphasizes the extent to which an environment encourages a search for personal meaning
through self-understanding, reflectiveness, and
identity. Propriety emphasizes politeness and
consideration and reflects a place where caution
70

and thoughtfulness are evident. Finally, scholarship represents academic achievement and
emphasizes the vigorous pursuit of knowledge
and intellectual activities in the college environment. Each of these five dimensions is meant
to be a meaningful feature easily recognized by
students, faculty, administrators, and the public.
The second framework guiding this
research more generally is a culturalpsychological perspective. Cultural psychology emphasizes the bidirectional relationship
between cultural context and psychological
experience (e.g., Markus & Kitayama, 1998;
Salter, Adams, & Perez, 2018; Shweder,
1990). We took a cultural snapshots approach,
which systematically analyzes the cultural
information encountered by collectives in a
variety of public settings (Weisbuch, Lamer,
Treinen, & Pauker, 2017). With this in mind,
different college environments can distinctly
impact a student's worldview. Capturing the
environmental cues and implicit messages
embedded therein can help educators understand what students take away from different
contexts (e.g., university orientation materials can signal messages of belonging or cultural mismatch; Stephens, Fryberg, Markus,
Johnson, & Covarrubias, 2012). Moreover,
how people use and engage with different
spaces ultimately impacts the space itself and
can leave psychological traces of their behaviors, preferences, and actions (Gosling, Ko,
Mannarelli, & Morris, 2002). For example,
one can observe the creation of more direct
routes across a college campus when new
walking paths emerge, despite previously existing sidewalks. Educational environments
are dynamic rather than static spaces as they
are subject to cultural-psychological processes

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING

Residential Academic Support Spaces

that promote both stability and change in any
given place.
A cultural-psychological perspective also
emphasizes the importance of understanding difference and diversity (e.g., Plaut, 2010).
While the CUES framework does not specifically address diversity and inclusion, other scholars
of environmental assessment in higher education have advocated for their importance (e.g.,
Astin & Antonio, 2012; Cuyjet, Howard-Hamilton, & Cooper, 2012; Hurtado, 2007; Hurtado &
Ruiz, 2012; Moos, 1979; Oblinger & Lippincott,
2006; Schroeder & Mable, 1994). In our study
of academic residential spaces, the current research considered diversity and inclusion in
addition to the five components of the CUES
framework. Also, while the CUES framework
focuses on the college environment as a whole,
we were particularly interested in how academic experiences in residential spaces might
uniquely contribute to the student experience.

RESEARCH AIMS
This research aimed to understand how four
Residential Academic Support Spaces (RASSs)
facilitate student development and academic
success. Specifically, we conducted a sociocultural analysis by observing and documenting
various environmental elements built into
these spaces. Ultimately, our goal was to describe them in a more sophisticated and personal manner (Astin & Antonio, 2012) and
identify possible ways to bolster usage and
improve the student experience.

METHOD
Our approach to this project was grounded
in qualitative research methods that describe

and examine particular cases in light of theory.
Case study approaches are particularly useful
when the research is exploratory and boundaries are not clear between the phenomena and
context (e.g., Baxter & Jack, 2008; Creswell,
Hanson, Clark Plano, & Morales, 2007). In
this instance, four residential spaces (versus
people) were the subject of investigation. Our
procedures were similar to those outlined by
Creswell and colleagues (2007), such that
our cases were within a bounded system (one
university), data were collected from multiple
sources over time (i.e., direct observation, photographs, field notes, debriefing with key staff),
we wrote detailed descriptions of the settings,
and in the final phase we produced recommendations from researcher reflections and
lessons learned. Throughout the process, our
work was also informed by calls for researchers to "think outside the box" (Mason, 2006),
engaging in a creative, flexible approach to our
data. The current research is consistent with
Mason's (2006) description of a constructivist approach in qualitative research, where
researchers reflect on "where the social phenomena or processes being investigated are
located. . . . For example, are they to be found
in people's behaviours, practices, imaginations, in physical or visual environments, in
norms or discourses and so on?" (p. 22). In
this study, we examined how practicality, community, awareness, propriety, scholarship, and
diversity/inclusion may be built into a residential and academic environment.
This study did not involve interacting with
human participants; it focused on the physical
spaces themselves. As such, it was exempted
by the Institutional Review Board at the participating institution.

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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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