Residence Hall Characteristics and Psychosocial

Report
Psychosocial Engagement
in Vanderbilt Residence
Halls
Morrie Swerlick
Chris Tarnacki
April 12, 2012
Background Information
•
•
3 Broad Types of Housing at Vanderbilt
•
Martha Rivers Ingram Commons
•
Upperclassmen Residence Halls
•
Living Learning Communities
Residential Life at Vanderbilt
•
“All unmarried undergraduate students, except those who live with
their parents or legal guardians in Davidson County, must live in
residence halls on campus during the academic year, May session,
and summer sessions. Authorization to live elsewhere is granted at
the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments in special
situations or when space is unavailable on campus.” (Office of
Housing and Residential Education Website)
•
93% of undergraduates live on campus
Tinto’s Interactionist Model
of Student Persistence
Social Integration
Subsequent
Institutional
Commitment (IC2)
Persistence
Tinto, 1975
Tinto’s Interactionist Model of
Student Persistence Testable
Propositions
The greater the degree of social integration, the greater
the level of subsequent commitment to the institution.
The greater the level of subsequent commitment to the
institution, the greater the likelihood of student
persistence in college.
Braxton, Sullivan, and Johnson,
1997
Influences on Social Integration in
Residential Colleges and Universities

Commitment of the Institution to Student Welfare

Communal Potential

Institutional Integrity

Proactive Social Adjustment

Psychosocial Engagement

Ability to Pay
Bolded influences explain 41% of the variance in social integration and were shown to be
statistically significant.
Braxton, Hirschy, and McLendon, 2004
Braxton, Doyle, Jones, et al, Forthcoming
Psychosocial Engagement
 “Making new friends and getting involved in the social life
of a college or university require both time and a
considerable investment of psychological energy.”
 “The investment of psychological energy in interactions
with peers and participation in extracurricular activities
provide students with the social experiences they need to
make judgments about their level of social integration.”
 “The greater the level of psychological energy a student invests in
various social interactions at his or her college or university, the
greater the student’s degree of social integration.”
Braxton, Hirschy, and McClendon, 2004
Do differences in the
characteristics of residence
halls at Vanderbilt have a
significant impact on
psychosocial engagement?
Quality of Life Survey
 Administered annually to Vanderbilt undergraduates
across all classes.
 Measures many aspects of student life at Vanderbilt
including alcohol and drug use, study habits, religion,
and social behaviors.
 Also includes select demographic data.
 We used existing data from the Quality of Life survey
from the Fall of 2011.
Differences Between Commons
and Upperclass Halls
Characteristic
Upperclass
Residence Halls
Students are more or
less randomly assigned
roommates and
residence halls
Selection
Students can select their
own roommates and
rooms.
All First Year Students
Students
Sophomores through
Seniors
Yes
Faculty-in-Residence
No
No
Student’s Greek
Affiliation
Yes
Almost none
Existing Social
Relationships
Established
Commons
Development of Index

Questions were asked on the Quality of Life survey.

6 items of the Index (1-5; 1 strongly disagree, 5 strongly agree)

How many programs sponsored by your residence hall have you attended this
past semester?

1. None, 2. 1 program, 3. 2 programs, 4. 3 or more

I am satisfied with the quality of life on my floor.

I am satisfied with my social experience at Vanderbilt.

There are sufficient programs (activities) that interest me on campus.

I know most of the people on my floor.

I have developed a close working relationship with at least one faculty member at
Vanderbilt.

Used Z-Scores to standardize responses on the different scales

Composite score was calculated by adding the z-scores and a constant of 10.
Descriptive Statistics
Factor
Percent Vanderbilt
Male
39.50%
49.60%
Female
61%
50.40%
White
68%
72.90%
Non-White
32%
27.10%
Above $100K
58.80% N/A
Below $100K
41.20% N/A
Descriptive Statistics
Comparison: Commons and Upperclass Respondants
How many programs
sponsored by your
residence hall have you
attended this past
semester?
N
Mean
Std. Deviation
Upperclass
Commons Upperclass Commons Upperclass Commons
379
249
3.45
1.86
.866
.996
I am satisfied with the
quality of life on my floor.
379
249
3.95
3.78
1.028
1.061
I am satisfied with my social
experience at Vanderbilt.
379
249
3.94
3.93
1.072
1.101
There are sufficient
programs (activities) that
interest me on campus.
379
249
4.11
3.97
.885
1.008
I know most of the people
on my floor.
379
249
3.75
2.56
1.215
1.310
I have developed a close
working relationship with at
least one faculty member at
Vanderbilt.
379
249
3.11
3.64
1.136
1.053
Descriptive Statistics
Variable
Composite
N
Mean
Std. Deviation
Commons Upperclass Commons Upperclass Commons Upperclass
379
249
60.7852
58.7335
3.48296
3.44847
Occupancy
379
249
187.5831
249.8554
62.90267
92.14467
RA Ratio
379
249
35.2824
49.1442
7.23195
6.75737
Composite- Sum of standardized scores from 6 items plus 10
Occupancy- Average number of students in halls. Based on numbers from 10th day
occupancy report Fall 2011
RA Ratio- Ratio of Resident Advisors to residents. Based on 10th day occupancy
report and numbers from RA Roster Fall 2011.
Group Comparisons
Independent Samples Test: Commons vs Upperclass
Levene's Test for Equality of
Variances
F
Composite
Equal variances assumed
Sig.
.409
.523
Equal variances not
assumed
Occupancy
Equal variances assumed
128.749
.000
Equal variances not
assumed
RA Ratio
Equal variances assumed
Equal variances not
assumed
19.456
.000
t-test for Equality of Means
t
Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Difference
-7.249
.000
-2.05168
Std. Error
Difference
.28301
-7.264
.000
-2.05168
.28243
10.064
.000
62.27231
6.18735
9.331
.000
62.27231
6.67375
24.111
.000
13.86184
.57493
24.452
.000
13.86184
.56690
Regression Models

Recoded Variables

Commons Variable (Commons=1, All other halls=0)

Race/Ethnicity (White=1, All other responses=0)

Gender (Male=1, Female=0)

Family Income


$100,000 and above =1

Below $100,000 =0
RA Ratio and Occupancy were recoded into High, Medium, and Low based on percentiles.


Occupancy

Below 167.0 residents recoded as “low.”

167.00 to 285.00 recoded as “medium.”

Above 285.00 recoded as “high.”
RA Ratio

Below 33.67 Students per RA recoded as “low”

33.67 to 45.25 recoded as “medium”

Above 45.25 recoded as “high”
Regression Models
R
.318
Variables
(Constant)
Male
White
Above $100,000
Medium Occupancy
High Occupancy
High RA Ratio
Medium RA Ratio
a
R Square
.101
Adjusted R
Square
.091
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
Std. Error
60.086
.376
.163
.282
1.180
.302
-.072
.284
.872
.344
-.532
.384
-2.039
.357
-1.289
.359
t
159.812
.579
3.904
-.253
2.531
-1.384
-5.715
-3.587
Sig.
.000
.563
.000
.800
.012
.167
.000
.000
Regression Models
R
.323
Variables
(Constant)
Male
White
Above
$100,000
Commons
a
R Square
.104
Adjusted R
Square
.098
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
Std. Error
60.086
.376
.187
.281
1.258
.300
-.137
.283
2.134
.281
t
159.812
.667
4.191
-.483
Sig.
.000
.505
.000
.629
7.594
.000
Summary of Findings

Students in the Commons scored higher on the psychosocial
engagement index than students in upperclass residence halls.

These halls also had, on average, a lower Student-RA ratio and
were smaller.

Controlling for race, gender, and income:

Excluding the Commons variable, having more students per RA
lead to a statistically significant lower score on the psychosocial
engagement index.

Having a hall with a medium capacity had a statistically
significant positive effect on psychosocial engagement versus a
hall with low occupancy.

Living in the Commons had a statistically significant positive
influence on psychosocial engagement.
Threats to External Validity
 It would be difficult to generalize the findings of this
study beyond Vanderbilt.
 The high rate of students who live on campus.
 The high retention rate of the school.
 The fundamental differences in housing for first year
students and for upperclassmen
 A very active Greek system
Threats to Internal Validity
 Low R2 suggests that both of our models account for
very little of the variance of psychosocial engagement.
 While the Commons model is good for psychosocial
engagement, students change.
 A more conclusive study would require students of all
class years to be mixed in residence halls. Some that
use the Commons model and some that don’t.
Final Thoughts

The Commons appears works… but is it necessarily better than
the upperclass hall model? We can’t really say.

One of the main goals of the Commons is encouraging healthy
social relationships among first year students.
 “First-year students live and learn together in the 10 Houses of The Ingram
Commons – each guided by a Faculty Head of House, a professor and
mentor who lives among the students of the house. Together they create the
first of four transformative years at Vanderbilt where students are
encouraged to develop and contribute their intellectual, social, ethical and
personal talents to the fullest. “ (Commons website)

The effect on first year students should not be extrapolated onto
upperclassmen

Some of the aspects of the Commons, smaller residence halls and
lower student-to-RA ratios also encourage psychosocial
engagement among all students.
References
Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research.
Reveiew
of Educational Research, 45
Braxton, J.M., Sullivan, A.S., and Johnson, R. (1997). Appraising Tinto’s theory of college student
departure. In J. Smart (Ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research (Vol. 12,
pp. 107-164). New York: Agathon.
Braxton, J.M., Hirschy, A.S., and McClendon, S.A. (2004). Understanding and Reducing College
Student Departure. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report (Vol. 30, No. 3)
Braxton, J.M., Doyle, W.R., Jones, W.A, et al (forthcoming). Rethinking College Student
Retention: Preliminary Findings
Housing and Residential Education (2012). About our residence halls. (20120, April 4). Retrieved
from http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ResEd/main/housing/about-our-residence-halls/
Special Thanks
Dr. John Braxton, Professor of Education, Peabody
College-Vanderbilt University
Dr. Pat Helland, Associate Dean, Office of the Dean of
Students
Mary Hutchens, Ph.D. candidate, Peabody CollegeVanderbilt University
Jason Jakubowski, Director of Housing Assignments,
Office of Housing and Residential Education

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