The Development of the Campus Community Index: Calling Campus Home or Calling It Quits


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A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of DOCTOR of EDUCATION in EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Student engagement on college campuses is a perennial concern among stakeholders at all levels. Existing survey instruments examine extrinsic factors accounting for engagement related to campus activities. Social psychology shows individuals tend to thrive when their intrinsic needs to matter and to connect with their environment are met. The purpose of the study was to develop an instrument, the Campus Community Index (CCI) to measure levels of mattering and connectedness among all students and their campus community, using an approach not previously seen in the literature. The quantitative study examined students’ perceptions of appreciation (mattering) and connection to campus community groups. Students’ background included age, gender, year-in-college, ethnicity, transfer or not, enrollment status, and residency status. Campus community included other students, faculty, senior administrators, administrators, support services, and student organizations. Sample size included students from four U.S. universities, N = 1132. There were eight approaches to analyses: descriptive statistics, Cronbach’s alpha, Bartlett Test of Sphericity, exploratory factor analysis, regression, chi-square goodness of fit, t-tests, and ANOVAs. Results showed that survey items were statistically significant to establish the CCI with both the Perception of Appreciation and Depth of Connectedness subscales. Each subscale contains 10 items. Further analyses showed student interaction with other students and student organizations were key for perceptions of community. Less so were interactions with administrators, senior administrators, and support services. There were mixed views of interaction with faculty. Surprisingly, freshman and graduate students had similar views. The CCI can stand alone to measure intrinsic values of student engagement or be used with other instruments to show relationships between intrinsic values and extrinsic activities. If students show higher levels of campus community, it should impact retention and graduation rates. Several recommendations for future research emerged. First, data should be gathered among all Carnegie classification institutions to see if results are similar. Second, the CCI should be correlated to students’ total time on campus, as well as whether they are enjoying their experience. Third, similarities between freshmen and graduate students should be explored. Finally, it should be used in conjunction with other instruments to provide a more complete description of student engagement.
Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Development