Do You Matter?

Dr. Roger Schieferecke
Mr. Isaac Ortega
Activity #1 (10 minutes)
Discuss Mattering
Discuss Marginalization
Retention and Persistence
Dissertation Research
Activity #2 (15 minutes)
Implications for Practice
Save the World
Think of a time when you felt as if you really mattered; when
who you were or what you did was valued. Please share
within your group:
Cues: What in the interaction let you know you were being valued?
Feelings: How did you feel as a result of this interaction?
Effects: How did this experience affect your future experiences with
that person or within that group?
Mattering is the belief or perception, right or wrong, of being important
to somebody or something.
-Nancy Schlossberg
 Attention – the feeling that one commands the interest of another
 Importance – the belief that someone else cares about what we think or do
 Ego-Extension – the belief that others will be proud of our accomplishments or
saddened by our failures
 Dependence – the belief that others “need” us.
 Appreciation – the belief that our efforts are appreciated.
According to Schlossberg, Mattering is a Motive and Does Determine Behavior.
The concept of marginalization is directly linked to the concept of mattering. Whereas
mattering has been shown to mean that people feel as if they belong and are significant
to others, marginality refers to the opposite perceptions.
Individuals or groups who are marginalized have the perception that they do not
belong or fit in (Schlossberg, 1989), are not significant to others, and are not needed by
others (Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981).
Being marginalized constitutes being defined as “other” by the dominant group, which
within the social hierarchy places an individual into the category of lower status
(Migliaccio, 2001). Specifically, Cheng (1999) defined marginalization as peripheral or
disadvantaged unequal membership.
Individuals who perceive their marginalized status may experience feelings of irritability
and unhealthy levels of self-consciousness when encountering new environments or
taking on new roles and their accompanying expectations (Schlossberg, 1989).
Why should you care about mattering and marginalization?
Perceptions of Mattering equals success: A sense of mattering motivates students to
learn and increases the likelihood that they will persist and develop (Schlossberg et al.,
***Previous studies have found that the most powerful predictor of mattering, for college
students, is support from friends (Dixon et al., 2007; Harris & Harper, 2008)***
• Most recent data from ACT revealed the retention rate (freshman that returned
for their sophomore year) for public four-year colleges was 64.9%
• Persistence (graduation w/in 5 years) rate for students at a public four-year
college was 36%
2013 ACT Data:
Dissertation Research
Phenomenological Study
What experiences with college have made you
feel as if you mattered?
What experiences with college have made you
feel marginalized?
What internal factors (i.e., gender, attitudes,
ethnicity) influence your engagement with higher
What external factors (such as campus policies,
institutional agents, and peers) influence your
engagement with higher education?
6 Themes Emerged
Praise: (Mattering)
• Received praise in classroom, professors words, written feedback.
• From community members, mentors, peers.
• Perceived they mattered when profs simply acknowledged them – simple comments or
“Any time you get praise in class, you realize they are taking notice of me; I must be doing something really good.
I must matter.”
The Unseen: (Marginalization)
• Students experienced marginalization when feeling insignificant or invisible.
• Large lecture-style classes – uncomfortable asking questions.
• No connection to the class or instructor
• Described feelings of invisibility when faculty, staff, and peers did not acknowledge their
presence. Locked in dorm room.
“I’ve been to parties where I feel marginalized. It’s as if I’m a foreigner in their native land. If I go
over to socialize with someone, I don’t often get a good response back ‘cause I’m not the
alcoholic clown, I’m not the popular kid that everyone knows, I’m not the big man on campus…”
6 Themes Emerged
Investing in Me: (Mattering)
• The belief that one is of value to others.
• Relationships w/ faculty, advisors, mentors, peers
• Felt valued when others invested in their success by spending time, energy and resources
on them – Guidance, attention, and encouragement.
“She makes me believe that she really cared about me as a person.”
Insignificant: (Marginalization)
• Interactions with faculty highlighted this theme. Marginalization feelings occurred with
unhelpful faculty. Students were verbally pushed out of the door.
“Hurry up and ask your question. I have to get going.” “I talked about it in lecture already.” “[Faculty]
acted like they are in a big hurry.”
• Being a part of a student organization and not having your voice heard.
6 Themes Emerged
Sense of Community: (Mattering)
• Perceptions of mattering occurred by being part of a team, group, or organization
• SGA, fraternities, cultural associations, honors program, athletics.
• Levels of participation varied, but positive experiences through being part of a community
were universal.
“When I joined the Greek system, I felt like I was part of something bigger, and I felt as if I mattered.”
The Outsider: (Marginalization)
• Students experienced marginalization when they did not fit in with their surroundings.
• Classrooms, student organizations, social settings.
• Freshman reported having perceptions of not fitting in when first coming to campus and
not being prepared for the competitive environment.
One student described his attempt at getting involved by attending a meeting: “[I] had
the feeling others were saying, ‘What are you doing here? You don’t belong here.You’re some little
freshman…’ So I quit trying.”
Each group will take one of the themes and create a skit, rap, or song that
follows the corresponding prompt.
Praise – Present different ways that you can show praise to the students that you mentor/lead.
The unseen – A student goes to an organization’s weekly meeting but doesn’t really feel like a part of it because it is so
big. Interpret this scenario really focusing on the student’s feelings as they goes through this.
Investing in me – You have a resident who wants to achieve a certain goal.What does it look like to invest time, energy
and resources into them?
Insignificant – An advisor or mentor is so busy that when a student goes to see them the meetings feel rushed and the
advisor seemed distracted. Create a representation of this.
Sense of Community – Present the growth of a student from an incoming freshman to an active member of an
Being the Outsider – A member of a group doesn’t feel understood because they are of a different race, religion, sexual
orientation, etc. etc. Create a scenario where this is revealed.
Implications for Practice
Perceptions of mattering and marginalization influence the success of students during their
collegiate years. Based on the experiences of mattering and marginalization of students in
this study, institutions may want to consider the following practices to increase retention of
• Student affairs professionals should implement mattering practices in their one-on-one
relationships with students. Asking students what they want out of their college
experience, their career goals, and their personal goals creates mattering.
• Student affairs professionals should work collaboratively with their academic colleagues
to foster opportunities for students and faculty members to interact outside the
classroom, such as learning communities, intramural sports activities, and social events.
• Students should be encouraged to be proactive in creating their own sense of mattering.
The data revealed powerful perceptions of mattering in social and academic organizations.
Institutions should support the growth of organizations and actively encourage the
involvement of students in these organizations.
Cheng, C. (1999). Marginalized masculinities and hegemonic masculinity: An introduction. Journal of Men’s Studies,
7(3), 295.
Dixon Rayle, A., & Chung K.Y. (2007). Revisiting first-year college students’ mattering: Social support, academic
stress, and the mattering experience. Journal of College Student Retention, 9(1), 21–37.
Harris, III, F., & Harper, S. R. (2008). Masculinities go to community college: Understanding male identity
socialization and gender role conflict. New Directions for Community Colleges, 142, 25–35.
Migliaccio, T. A. (2001). Marginalizing the battered male. Journal of Men’s Studies, 9(2), 205–226.
Reese, V. L., & Dunn, R. (2007). Learning-style preferences of a diverse freshmen population in a large, private,
metropolitan university by gender and GPA. Journal of College Student Retention, 9(1), 95–112.
Rosenberg, M., & McCullough, B. C. (1981). Mattering: Inferred significance and mental health among adolescents.
Research in Community Health, 2, 163–182.
Schlossberg, N. K. (1989). Marginality and mattering: Key issues in building community. In D.C. Roberts (Ed.),
Designing campus activities to foster a sense of community (pp. 5–15). New Directions for Student
Services, no. 48. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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