Characteristics of Effective Post-Secondary Student Residences

Thesis: Central Michigan University, MA Ed.
by John Conrad


The purpose of this study is to determine the characteristics that describe an effective undergraduate residence system. This study was done at a mid-size university in southwestern Ontario, Canada with a full time enrollment of about 10000 students. The campus houses 48% of its undergraduate student population in nine on-campus residences. The university provides a wide variety of housing types such as traditional dormitory (both single sex and co-ed), suite/apartment, and non-traditional dormitory style housing. This study attempts to determine the characteristics that define an effective undergraduate residence hall. The data collection method used to gather these characteristics was the use of focus groups. Participants were asked a series of questions in a group format and allowed to answer and direct the discussion around the questions, as they felt appropriate. The quotes from the focus groups were sorted based on themes. The themes were then identified and assigned a label. A total of 251 quotes were recorded from 29 participants. The themes (characteristics) are as follows: Community (57 quotes), Leadership (15 quotes), Diversity (9 quotes), Transition (16 quotes), People (24 quotes), Place (76 quotes), Philosophy (26 quotes), and Policies (28 quotes). The eight characteristics were then grouped into two larger categories: moral characteristics and managerial characteristics. These eight characteristics are the characteristics that define an effective undergraduate residence hall.

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