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Belongingness in Residence Halls: Examining Spaces and Contexts for First-Year Students Across Race and Gender

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The purpose of this study was to explore sense of belonging across race and gender using Strayhorn's (2012) sense of belonging model as a conceptual framework to guide both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. Survey data confirmed findings from previous literature concerning disparities between belongingness among white women who had the highest sense of belonging as compared with other racial and gender identities. Contrary to the survey analysis, narratives of belonging were articulated more often among men across racial categories with some perceiving sense of belonging through a more static lens, while others perceived belonging as more fluid and dynamic. Women across racial lines often told more complex and relational narratives of belonging, focusing on their actual, rather than abstract, experiences. Implications concerning relationality and sense of belonging, sense of belonging as a dynamic process, and first-year residential programming are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • The Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition is a semiannual refereed journal providing current research on the first college year and other significant student transitions. The primary purpose of the Journal is to disseminate empirical research findings on student transition issues that inform practice in all sectors of postsecondary education, such as explorations into the academic, personal, and social experiences (including outcomes related to success, learning, and development) of students at a range of transition points throughout the college years; transition issues unique to specific populations (e.g., non-traditional, traditional, historically underrepresented students, transfer students, commuters, part-time students); and explorations of faculty development, curriculum, and pedagogical innovations connected to college transitions.
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