Residence hall academic atmosphere: Perceptions of faculty, students and student affairs personnel

Date of Completion

January 1997


Education, Sociology of|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Higher




This study addresses the perceptions of faculty, students, and student affairs personnel regarding the academic atmosphere in college and university residence halls. A consistent philosophy appears in colleges and universities that it is important to connect students' in-class cognitive learning with out-of-class affective learning. The literature on this topic, however, reveals that there are different perceptions of residence hall programs in connecting cognitive and affective learning experiences. There have been no formal assessments of the perceptions because student affairs staff consider it a low priority and have not conducted assessments in any systematic and comprehensive way (Upcraft & Schuh, 1996). It is also not an area of faculty interest (Boyer, 1988, 1990).^ This study produced a Likert scaled survey instrument that may be used by campuses to collect institutional data on the perceptions of the academic atmosphere in residence halls. Institutions may use the data generated from the survey to plan strategies for academic support programs in their residence halls (Strange, 1993). The researcher reviewed literature and consulted with a panel of expert judges to examine the content validity of the instrument. A pilot test was administered at a university in New England to examine the item reliability of the instrument. The researcher administered the survey at a university in New England. The final data from faculty, students, residence hall staff, and students were rank ordered by means to indicate the degree of importance by items. Descriptive data and multivariate analysis of variance were employed to discover that the four groups had significantly different perceptions of the academic support programs, services, and facilities available in residence halls. The groups had significantly different perceptions of student behaviors and their impact on the academic atmosphere in residence halls. The groups had significantly different perceptions of their own roles in promoting a positive academic atmosphere in residence halls. Overall, faculty and other student affairs personnel had either no or negative perceptions, while students and residence hall staff had mixed perceptions of residence hall academic atmosphere. The researcher concluded the study with a discussion of results and recommendations for future research. ^