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Researchers to conduct first comprehensive study on impact of living arrangements on student success

For Immediate Release Aug 24, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The National Survey of Student Engagement, based at the Indiana University School of Education’s Center for Postsecondary Research, has been awarded nearly $180,000 to support a three-year study of how undergraduate students’ residential options influence their engagement and persistence in college.

While past research has explored the impact of the college experience on the development and success of college students, this study represents the first comprehensive, multicampus, representative study of the broader impact that living on campus has on college students’ experience and success.

The grant was funded by the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International’s Education and Research Foundation.

The study will combine data from the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International’s Campus Housing Index and the National Student Clearinghouse to create a comprehensive picture of how students’ living arrangements, both on and off campus, influence their participation in effective educational practices and likelihood to persist in college.

The study will collect data on the experiences of about 25,000 undergraduates attending 75 U.S. bachelor’s-degree-granting colleges. The aim is to produce recommendations that colleges and universities can act on to improve the effectiveness of their residential facilities, programs and staff.

“The data compiled in this study promise to be the most comprehensive and useful source for answering questions about the relationship of undergraduate living arrangements to student outcomes,” said Bob Gonyea, associate director for research at the Center for Postsecondary Research and the study’s principal investigator. “Not only will we be able to answer questions about the impact of residence life on student retention, but we will also explore the impact on student engagement, which has proven to be associated with a host of other student outcomes.”

“It is critically important for campus housing and residence life professionals to be able to articulate the impacts of our programs and services on students, and to have the tools to make data-driven decisions that optimize the experiences of students living in our campus communities,” said Beth McCuskey, president of the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International. “This study will provide those critical resources for professionals in the field.”

“ACUHO-I is committed to creating and disseminating the knowledge resources needed by campus housing and residence life professionals,” said Mary DeNiro, the association’s CEO and executive director. “We look forward to utilizing the data gleaned from the NSSE team’s efforts to shape our programs, and to continue to demonstrate the essential contributions of housing and residence life programs on campuses across the globe.”


ACUHO-I is the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International. Its members believe in developing exceptional residential experiences at colleges, universities and other postsecondary institutions around the world. Representing over 900 member institutions and 16,000 individual professional staff who work in college and university housing, the association represents the best in how colleges and universities provide quality educational experiences for students.

About NSSE

NSSE is the National Survey of Student Engagement. Its annual survey provides colleges and universities with rich data about the undergraduate experience to help them improve the student learning experience. Survey items represent empirically confirmed good practices in undergraduate education, reflecting behaviors by students and institutions that are associated with desired outcomes of college. Survey results point to areas where colleges and universities are performing well and aspects of the undergraduate experience that could be improved. In 2017, 727 colleges and universities participated in NSSE; over 1,600 have participated since 2000.

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IU Center for Postsecondary Research

Bob Gonyea

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