The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - 74

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

Residential Academic Support Spaces

. . . different college environments

	 Figure 3
	 Eastside RASS with Curtains for Semi-private Group Spaces

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 . . .

tion and execution of the study to plan and
coordinate the research project. These team
meetings focused on developing research
questions, discussing prior literature, developing the instrument, and participating in
qualitative research training before data collection. The team comprised undergraduate and
graduate students, faculty, and residential life
professional staff.
in a building that houses a dining facility, multipurpose reservation rooms, game rooms,
and offices for residence life staff. Westside is
open to all students at the institution during
its daily scheduled hours and via swipe card
access outside of those hours as long as the
building is open. The RASS is staffed for most
of the day by part-time student workers, allowing it to serve as an additional resource for
assistance. The space provides areas for both
individual and group studying, but, unlike
Eastside, it does not have private study spaces
available.
The fourth RASS (Southside; Figure 1D) is
also open to all students at the university. It is
74

located in a high-traffic area on campus within
a set of connected buildings that include
several residence halls and a food court. Southside provides an open-access computer lab and
multiple areas for group and individual work
and also has a part-time student worker staff
person at a desk to assist students.

Design and Procedure
We conducted a qualitative, sociocultural analysis of four RASSs on a university campus. We
utilized an observational method as a means
of understanding how the spaces function and
operate in order to make suggestions for improvement. To begin, the core research team
met biweekly throughout the conceptualiza-

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING

Prior to data collection, we also contacted
key residence life staff as research informants
and to gain permission to enter and code data
about the spaces. Any staff person present
in the RASS was informed of the study and
the intentions to qualitatively code data and
assess the space. Each space was observed
at least once during three different times of
day (morning, afternoon, evening) to observe
usage variation throughout the day. Each
RASS was also observed on a week day and
a weekend to better capture how students utilized the space. The research team aimed to
provide a detailed description of each space.
These descriptions allowed us to see similarities and differences from different researcher

perspectives. Researcher descriptions and observations were aided by a coding scheme.

Coding
The coding scheme was adapted from the
CUES framework (Pace, 1963) and the Personal Living Space Cue Inventory (PLSCI;
Gosling, Craik, Martin, & Pryor, 2005) and in
reference to a cultural-psychological framework (Weisbuch et al., 2017). Because CUES
initially was designed to capture perceptions of
institutional climate and to function as a between-institution measure (Astin & Antonio,
2012; Pace, 1963), the PLSCI proved useful
in creating a coding scheme to specifically
capture an assessment of the environment.
The PLSCI originally was created to document
the features of personal living spaces, like
college residence hall rooms. The CUES inventory provided the overarching framework of
what might be desired in an academic support
space, and the PLSCI provided a broad range of
"global environmental attributes" that describe
the physical characteristics of spaces (Gosling
et al., 2005, pp. 694-695). The coding scheme
was divided into three forms. Form A included
16 instances of frequency counts (e.g., number
of occupants, number of lab computers in use,
number of private study spaces). Form B included thirty 5-point Likert scale items adapted
from the PLSCI based on their relevance to the
five components of the CUES inventory (e.g.,
noisy versus quiet, inviting versus uninviting).
Form C included 16 items for which coders
could indicate the presence or absence of cues
embodying diversity and other institutional
values (e.g., respect, civic engagement).
To increase study reliability, we conducted
a series of intercoder agreement trainings
(Gibbs, 2007; Yin, 2009). Before conducting
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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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