SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 19

FEATURE ARTICLES
new generations of students bring new issues for professionals to address. To increase students' retention rates
as they progress toward graduation, students must have a connection with the institution. More research is
needed to better understand the key aspects of students' connection with their institutions.
Living-learning communities serve as a scene to study involved and on-campus students no matter the type of
institution. Involved students are connected with the institution, be it in a student organization, employment,
or affinity group to name examples. On-campus students are those who reside in a residence hall. The concept
of living-learning communities has been around since the early days of higher education, dating back to the
founding institutions in Europe. Since the early days of higher education, living-learning communities have
been beneficial for student success, involvement, and retention (Inkelas et al., 2001). There is a limited amount
of empirical research on living-learning communities as a form of involvement based on type of institution,
which brings forward the need to conduct research on this topic. It is known that housing staff are involved in
the community aspect and that they provide support for the continuation of living-learning communities. The
role of the staff is important, allowing for the community's existence in the first place. The staff helps to guide
the day-to-day operations of the community and assists with the creation of opportunities in which the students
partake. With the staff providing management to the community, students are able to be involved in multiple
environments at college (Astin, 1999). Greater focus is needed on this involvement; through appropriate
research, further information about the students and the interaction they have with their institutions based on
type of institution would be produced.
What is missing from the research is how involved in the institution the student feels because of his or her
living-learning community based on institution type. There is also a need to look at how living-learning
communities are structured and staffed, and whether the student is required to participate in the living-learning
community. The level of student involvement is tied to the connection with the institution (Astin, 1984). Having
a committed housing staff focused on student development accomplishes this. Focusing on the involvement
component allows researchers to address the gap in the literature and to dig deeper into the role that the
living-learning community has on students. The results will be able to assist housing professionals in knowing
where to focus their efforts in order to bring about success in a living-learning community and the overall
connectedness a student has with the institution.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether student participation in living-learning communities
influences students' sense of belonging and their involvement at their institutions based on type of institution.
For this research, the term demographic variables will refer to items classified as such from the Student of
Integrated Living Learning Programs. This study will test the following research hypotheses:
RQ1: Is there a difference in student demographics between those in a living-learning community and those not
based on type of institution?
RQ2: Is participation in a living-learning community related to sense of belonging based on type of institution?
Methodology
Relevant literature suggested that the theoretical framework, comprised of Astin's (1984) involvement theory,
should be assessed through survey instruments. Involvement was assessed through analyzing the connectedness
a person feels to a particular aspect of their environment. Institutions were required to be affiliated with
a professional association to participate. The professional association for housing departments for higher
education in the state is the Mississippi Association of Housing Officers (MAHO). To be affiliated with MAHO,
institutions must be in the state of Mississippi and provide on-campus housing to students. Using institutions
affiliated with MAHO allowed a commonality among the institutions to be sampled.
Any undergraduate and graduate student at an institution who was affiliated with MAHO was eligible to be a
participant. All participants for this study were at least 18 years old, lived on campus, and were seeking a degree
at the time of the study. Students who resided on campus at any of the affiliated institutions were sought as
potential participants. For meaningful statistics to be produced, the survey process included standardized
measurement as a component to ensure consistency among participants (Fowler, 2009).
This research design was non-experimental, specifically, survey research through cross-sectional surveys.
When gathering information at a particular point in time cross-sectional surveys are used (Fowler, 2009).
Survey research offers several benefits: efficiency (it does not require a lot of time and cost typically); versatility
(numerous fields find it applicable for use); and generalizability (it can make inferences of generalizability of a
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SEAHO Report - Summer 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SEAHO Report - Summer 2021

Contents
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 1
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - Contents
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