Friday, December 16, 2016

Research Blog #10: Final Abstract, Bibliography, and Link to the Paper


Commuter students face a multitude of time commitments such as a job, family and transportation to and from school that prevent them from focusing on getting involved in the university community. While this may not cause a huge disruption in their academics and social life, research shows that students that live on-campus in a residence hall achieve higher GPAs and retention rates. These on-campus students succeed because they are able to get more involved in their university, such as having more time to interact with peers, professors and extracurriculars. Students who get involved feel more invested in their community and strive to succeed as a result. Meanwhile, there are some students who do not feel the same. Social isolates who reside in the residence halls do not receive the same benefits of on-campus living that other students experience; because they lack the social groups to get involved and to feel connected to the college community. Resident Assistants in the residence halls play an integral role in helping facilitate relationships for these social isolates, although they have failed to do so, so far.


Armstrong, Elizabeth and Laura Hamilton.  Paying for the Party: How College Maintains
Inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2013. Print.
Astin, Alexander W. “Student Involvement: A developmental theory for higher education.”
Journal of College Student Development 40.5 (1999): 518-529. ERIC. 6 Oct. 2016
Balfour, Denise S. (2013). The Relationship Between Living Arrangement, Academic
Performance, and Engagement Among First-Year College Students, 1-89. Print.
Blimling, Gregory S. “A Meta-Analysis of the Influence of College Residence Halls on
Academic Performance.” Journal of College Student Development 30.4 (1989): 298-308.
ERIC. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
Blumenthal, Andrew M. Analyzing the Role of the Resident Assistant in Academic Support. Diss.
Northern Michigan University, 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
Chickering, Arthur W. Commuting Versus Resident Students: [overcoming the Educational
Inequities of Living Off Campus]. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1974. Print.
Jacoby, Barbara, and John Garland. “Strategies for Enhancing Commuter Student Success.”
Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice 6.1 (2004): 61-79.
ERIC. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.
Moffatt, Michael. Coming of Age in New Jersey: College and American Culture. New
 Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989. Print. 15 Nov. 2016.
Newbold, John J. "Lifestyle Challenges For Commuter Students." New Directions For Student
Services 2015.150 (2015): 79-86. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
Turley, RNL, and G Wodtke. "College Residence And Academic Performance: Who Benefits
From Living On Campus?." Urban Education 45.4 (2010): 506-532. Social Sciences
Citation Index. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
Yongyi, Wang, et al. "The Influence Of Residence Hall Community On Academic Success Of
Male And Female Undergraduate Students." Journal Of College & University Student

Housing 33.1 (2004): 16-22. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.

Link to the Paper

Literature Review #5

  1. 2. Armstrong, Elizabeth and Laura Hamilton.  Paying for the Party: How College Maintains
    Inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2013. Print.
  2. 3. In this book, Paying for the Party, Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton conduct a study in a residence hall where they discover that some students thrive and others fail, labeled as "social isolates." They contribute a lot of this to the different pathways in college, the mobility pathway, the professional pathway, and the party pathway and how each can help with upwards mobility. Some of the social isolates were unsuccessful in socialization in the community because of a lack of trying but others attributed it to social class. 

  3. 4. Both Laura Hamilton and Elizabeth Armstrong, who conducted the study and wrote the book, are professors of sociology. Hamilton, who has a P.H.D in Sociology and teaches at the University of California, focuses most of her research and studies on social class, gender and education. Armstrong, who has a P.H.D from University of California-Berkeley and teaches at the University of Michigan, focuses her research on gender, social patterns and groups, and education.

  4. 5. Social Isolate: Individuals in a residence hall who are unable to make social connections with others and get involved in the overall community (this results in low retention rates and low GPAs)
  5. Social Dynamics: The interaction between individuals within a group and/or interactions between groups as a whole 

  1. 6. "In fact, an astonishing twenty-five women - nearly half of the floor - could be described as social isolates. We defined social isolates as those who, by the end of the year, could claim only one person on the floor (outside of a roommate) as a ‘friend’” (96).
  2. "Theoretically, more extensive Residence Life programming might have also helped the women to get to know each other better" (99).
  3. "Initially we assumed that floor isolates would find each other and create their own friendship groups. However, the interactional strategies of socially ambitious women made it difficult. For example, those who moved into the dorm who were genuinely open to meeting people, quickly acquired the impression that everyone else on the floor had a million friends" (104).

  1. 7. This book has given me the key term for my paper, social isolate, and the case of Alana as well. With the example of the different types of students on the floor, I found the social isolates as the most interesting group and was able to develop an argument around it. This book also gave me an interesting perspective on Residence Life, because it left me wondering whether the lack of an RA presence in the hall attributed to the amount of social isolates living in the community (25). 

Research Blog #8: Case

My main example that I will be exploring in order to illustrate my argument that social isolates do not receive benefits of on-campus living based on the Student Involvement Theory, is through Alana in Paying for the Party. Alana was known on the floor as one of the social isolates, who came into college excited about her education, but left sorely disappointed. In the book, she focuses on the fact that it was hard to meet friends in the hall and that eventually led to her grades slipping and thoughts of transferring to a school closer to home. Alana tells the researchers, "'Maybe the lack of social environment that I was looking for kind of interfered with my schoolwork'" (Armstrong and Hamilton 96). Although Alana did try to make connections in her hall in the beginning, unlike other social isolates, Alana never fully tried to get connected in college. The book never mentioned that Alana actually joined any clubs, or tried really hard in her classes (in the end she ended up failing most of them). Being a social isolate, Alana could not make any real connections or friend groups in her hall, and this ultimately caused all the on-campus benefits of living in a residence hall to be negated. As an interesting point that I would like to mention in my paper, there was no RA in Alana's residence hall who actively sought out social isolates either, or tried to create a welcoming environment for everyone in the hall, which also could have led to the demise of Alana's college experience. While bringing up solutions, I would like to mention how Alana's experience could have been different if there was a resident assistant present in her community that cared.

Research Blog #9: Argument and Counter-Argument

In the beginning of my paper, I explain why living on campus is beneficial to students as opposed to commuting. This is done through the Student Involvement Theory and through research explaining how commuters have a lot more activities to juggle in their daily lives. However this is only half of the central argument to my paper. I seek to prove that social isolates living in residence halls on campus negate the benefits of on-campus living because of their lack of involvement in the community. I also make a point that living in a residence hall leads to involvement in the university, and this also helps to boost a students GPA and retention rates for colleges. However, one of my sources, College Residence and Academic Performance states "Consistent with this explanation, some evidence indicates that living on campus has no effect on study habits and is associated instead with more frequent participation in academically hazardous social activities, such as alcohol use (Pascarella et al., 1994; Valliant & Scanlan, 1996)" (Turley and Wodtke). This statement in some ways counteracts the benefits of living on-campus that I have previously found in my research. If students are involved in hazardous activities and instead lessen the quality of study habits, then not only do social isolates but regular students lose the benefits from living on-campus. This argument frames the issue in different terms because it points out that too much involvement and socialization in the residence hall leads to negative effects as well as if there was no involvement or interaction. Connecting this to other texts, in Paying for the Party, this act of partying instead of studying harder and getting involved with classes was called the party pathway. Though there is a relationship between the counter-argument and the party pathway, I feel like it is unnecessary to bring up the connection in my paper because the pathways are a different route than where I want to go with my overall argument.

Research Blog #7: Frame

One theory that is particularly prevalent in my research pertaining to social isolates is the Student Involvement Theory created by Alexander Astin, along with the academic concept of socialization amongst students on and off-campus. In my paper, I need to first understand why on-campus students have higher retention rates and grade-point averages than commuter students, and this is made sense by the Student Involvement Theory. It explains that because students in residence halls eat, sleep and study with their peers in an academic setting, they are more likely to feel connected to the overall university community. 
As another study by Ruth Turley and Geoffrey Wodtke stated, this is because "Research has documented that students living on campus are more likely than those living off campus to interact with faculty, participate in extracurricular activities, and use institutional resources (Astin, 1984; Chickering, 1971, 1974; Pascarella, 1984; Pascarella et al., 1994; Welty, 1976)" (Turley and Wodtke 508). The Student Involvement Theory has helped me in my preliminary research to answer the why questions such as, why do on-campus students outperform commuter students. It has also become relevant to my later questions such as, why do social isolates not benefit from living on-campus like other students do, because now I understand that social isolates do not get involved in their communities (as they should based on the Student Involvement Theory), therefore they do not feel connected to the university and are unwilling/unaware of how to succeed. 

Socialization ties into this because it is an academic concept that explains what needs to occur in order to help these social isolates succeed. In Paying for the Party, a lot of the 18 social isolates on the floor did not interact with the cliques and social circles in their community, and therefore they lacked socialization. This can also be seen in Dr. Michael Moffatt's book, Coming of Age in New Jersey, where the students who were considered floaters on the floor socialized but did it outside of their residence hall, and therefore were not considered social isolates (since they hung out with groups in the building) but rather not invested in their residence hall community to the degree that others were. 

Literature Review #4

    1. 2. Moffatt, Michael. Coming of Age in New Jersey: College and American Culture. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989. Print. 15 Nov. 2016.

      3. This book gave informative incite into the college residence hall environment at Rutgers University. There was a study performed in one of the halls on College Avenue that mapped out the students living there and their relationships with one another in the hall. The book also discussed the overall community of the hall and how it impacted each of the students living there.

      4. Dr. Michael Moffatt was a Rutgers University anthropology professor who conducted a study within one of the halls for this book. He first started out studying the "Untouchables" in India, but later became a lecturer and professor at Rutgers University. After writing this book, Coming of Age In New Jersey, Dr. Moffatt started another book The Rutgers Picture Book: An Illustrated History of Student Life in the Changing College And University. 

      5.  One key term or concept used in the piece is floaters, which are individuals in the hall whom did not connect with one social group exclusively, but instead talked with multiple or all of the groups in the residence hall. These floaters did not connect deeply with any one member of the hall but ventured elsewhere to make those deep connections. The second is the concept/term of RAs or as stated in the book, preceptors. They are described by Dr. Moffat as students who, along with administrators, try to force a sense of community in the residence halls.

      6.  " If you are a good, normal American human being in the 1980s, you should be ready, under certain unsteady circumstances, to extend friendship to any other human being regardless of the artificial distinctions that divide people in the real world" (43).
           " The residents of Hasbrouck Fourth breathed a collective sigh of relief when 
      Pete finally resigned. By now the floor was used to taking care of itself in any 
      case; in the opinion of most of its residents, it did not really need a preceptor" 
          " Social class even reared its head. Jay might have felt superior to other residents of Hasbrouck Fourth, somewhat beneath himself at Rutgers. And Pete had apparently had his lower middle-class buttons pushed during the fall by his experience in an affluent, upper-middle-class high school" (123).

      7. Dr. Moffatt's personal experiences and documentations of life in a residence hall helped me get a better understanding/outside view (coming from a resident assistant) of residents living together and trying to feel inclusion. The maps that Dr. Moffatt made in the book also helped me solidify the fact that my own notes of social patterns and groups within the halls help to distinguish social isolates from social butterflies. I think it is also really cool that this study was performed within my university by a Rutgers professor.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Research Blog #6: Visual

Even though this infographic is for a specific state in the US, these statistics show the benefits of living on campus rather than commuting. In the visual, it states commuters spend an average of $86 monthly on their mode of transportation, along with a 46 min commute. This helps to visualize the difficulties of commuting everyday and strengthens my initial thesis that there are a lot of benefits to living on campus. In the middle of the infographic, students mention that they have more interaction with faculty, have a more supportive campus environment, have a more enriching educational experience and have more personal and social competence.