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									                              Residence Hall Life

The Group Dynamics of a Residence
 Hall at Montclair State University:
  Is the Current System Effective?

         Charles Flannery

    Dynamics of Group Process

         Dr Richard Grey

Date of Submission: April 23, 1998

Running Head: Residence Hall Life
                                                                     Residence Hall Life


Students at colleges and universities across the country complain about the living conditions.

However, many are not as unhappy as they say they are, at least at Montclair State University.

The survey that was administered measured several things including social interaction,

homesickness, how often one borrows things, how outgoing one is, visitation, and roommate

compatibility. The results show that many college students are pretty happy where they are

living, at least for the time being. This survey was limited to a small group of college males at

Montclair State University living in one wing of a residence hall there. Therefore, it is possible

that results may be different at other universities.
                                                                      Residence Hall Life

       Many students who go away to school for the first time always tend to complain about

the living conditions they are forced to put up with while at school. However, the structure of

college living does serve several purposes. First, the design of the average college dorm allows

for much social interaction between students, where as if students were housed in apartments or

other living situations, there would be less socializing between students. This could lead to

loneliness, isolation, and other problems among first year students. Second, there is only a

certain amount of space on most college campuses, Montclair State being no exception.

Therefore, the size of most rooms is usually somewhat limited and the design of a residence

building is set up to accommodate a large number of students in a limited amount of space.

Finally, many students going away from college for the first time need a little bit of help

adjusting to living on their own.       Therefore, most universities, Montclair State University

included, hire student resident assistants to supervise, help, and accommodate for the changes

new students will likely go through.

                                       Significance of the Study

       This study has determined how students, on average feel about residence hall life. Of

course, I recognize that there are many external variables that have not been taken into

consideration here that may influence the results had this survey been done at other universities.

Despite this fact, however, many of the questions asked here can be generalized to residence life

at Montclair State University and other universities.

       Many students complain about living conditions at school, but are all of the students that

live away at school each year really unhappy? This survey states that many are happy with their

current conditions and find them quite livable and quite helpful to their growth process.
                                                                    Residence Hall Life


Sample Selection

       The sample was selected completely by random, limiting the population of residents to

one wing in Stone Hall, specifically the 2-South wing. This was done due to time limitations and

convenience. A survey form was slid under the door of each room in the 2-South wing with

instructions of where it should be returned. Additional survey forms were also made available to

those who lost their forms or who needed an extra. A total of seven forms were returned, which

is not bad considering the population size is 27 residents.


       As stated earlier, the instruments used for this research were surveys. The surveys

contained 14 questions, most of which could be rated on a Likert-type scale with the exception of

class status, age and one or two others. A copy of the actual survey used in this research can be

found in the Appendix.

Data Collection and Analysis

       The survey results were punched into the computer as they were returned to me. It was

necessary for me to hand out a few additional survey forms as well as remind others to return

their forms as soon as possible.

       A mean and standard deviation was calculated for each question, with the exception of

those that contained nominal measures (class status, yes/no answers, etc).        These nominal

measures were only used to see if answers remained constant when these measures changed. For

example, the class status measure was used in conjunction with the homesickness measure to see

if freshmen felt more homesick than upperclassmen.
                                                                     Residence Hall Life


       The average age of a male Stone Hall resident living in the 2-South wing was determined

to be 20.88 years with a standard deviation of 2.17. It was also determined that the average class

status of one of these residents is either sophomore or junior. Therefore, speaking for the

average, we are looking at a group of guys around 21 years old who are sophomores or juniors in


       Surprisingly, people tended to make a lot of friends rapidly and fit in, thus overcoming

homesickness. The mean measure for homesickness (question 12) was 2.33. In other words,

most respondents stated that they experienced little to no homesickness while at school.

       Most of the people stated that they had quite a few friends who lived on the wing. The

average measure for friends (question 1) was 4.50 with a standard deviation of 0.84. This high

number with such a low standard deviation shows that most were in agreement that they were

friendly with a few other people on the wing.

       The two visitation questions (question 2 and question 6) were phrased differently and

thus got different responses. Question 2 was as follows: “I often go to someone else‟s room on

my wing just to talk, watch television, or hang around.” For this question, the mean response

was 4.17 with a standard deviation of 0.75. This demonstrates a high level of comfort with one

another. For question 6, which was phrased, “I spend a lot of time in other people‟s rooms on

this wing.” the results were considerably lower. The mean result for this question was 3.17 with

a standard deviation of 1.72. A possible reason for the difference is question 6 focuses more on

the time element (I spend a lot of time rather than I often go). The people who gave a high

response in question 2 quite possibly just drop in on people for five or ten minutes, however this

rules them out of giving a high response in question 6.
                                                                      Residence Hall Life

       Most people on the wing felt comfortable enough to borrow something from another

resident without a problem, (mean=4.00, SD=0.89), however when asked a question directly

stating whether or not they actually have borrowed something, the results were drastically

different. Question 8 asked if you have ever borrowed any article of clothing from another

resident; the results were as follows: mean=1.83, SD=0.41 (this question used the response of 1

for yes and the response of 2 for no). Therefore, it can be assumed that most people do not go

out of their way to borrow something from someone else, in fact most probably avoid it if they

could. However, if put in a situation where one had to borrow something, it is likely that they

would not feel overly uncomfortable doing such.

       The one thing many resident college students dread is their roommate, right?            Not

according to this survey. Out of the five respondents who had roommates (one had a single

room), they all answered 5 or “strongly agree” when asked if they get along with their current

roommate. However, when viewing the single room lottery list a few days ago, the number of

names listed there had to be at least 75. This indicates that my sample, quite possibly, may not

be a true representation of everyone at Montclair State University.

       Most residents who live in Stone dislike the community bathrooms. The mean response

for this question was 2.00 with a standard deviation of 1.26.

       There were two questions to measure if there is unfamiliarity between people who live

together. Question 4 I called the strangers measure. It simply asked, “There are people who live

on this wing who I have never met.” Question 7 I called the acquaintances measure (one step up

from the strangers‟ measure). It asks, “My conversation with neighbors is limited to „Hi, how

are you?‟” Question 11 I refer to as the “crowdedness” measure. This question asks, “Too many

people live on this wing and I have a hard time getting to know them all.”    Despite the different
                                                                       Residence Hall Life

ways the questions were phrased, there were no significant differences in any of the results, (4

and 7, t=-0.439, p>.05; 4 and 11, t=1.82, p>.05; 7 and 11, t=2.30, p>.05). The actual results

were as follows: question 4 mean=2.83, SD=1.60; question 7 mean=3.17, SD=1.72, question 11

mean=1.67, SD=0.82.

       The final thing I measured was how much of an effort do people tend to exert to make

new friends. I measured this by asking if the person spends a lot of time hanging around in the

lounges. The results I got were amazingly low. The mean response for this question was 1.83

with a standard deviation of 1.33. This probably indicates that most people have their friends

already and do not need to put forth much more effort to make many more by spending a lot of

time in the community areas.


       Although this survey was done on a small scale using only one wing from one building in

a residence hall at Montclair State University, some of the results can be applied to the general

population of resident students at Montclair State and at other universities as well. As not

previously anticipated, most students felt little or no homesickness. I attribute this result to the

survey being done late in the school year, probably at a time when many students have already

made friends in the halls and across campus. Another contributing factor might be the fact that

many students are immersed in their studies by this time and involved in many extracurricular

activities. Even the one freshman respondent stated that he felt little homesickness, therefore

indicating that over the course of 6-7 months, he had become part of the community.

       Questions 4, 7, and 11, in essence, ask the same thing. Is there much distance between

you and any member of our little community? Even though the numbers did not come out
                                                                     Residence Hall Life

similar, there was no significant difference between any of the results of these three questions,

and thus, little distance between residents.

       This survey cannot be successfully generalized to the population of female resident

college students because no females were included in my research. The results of those who are

female or even of different ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds may be different if this survey

was administered to them.

       Once again, the time in the year that this survey was administered could have had an

effect on the results. For example, a freshman moving into a dormitory room for the first time in

September and just saying goodbye to family would have likely answered differently to the

homesickness question and the questions about friends on the wing.
                                                                        Residence Hall Life

                                            Appendix A:

                                          Survey Questions

Please answer each question to the best of your ability. Use the following rating system.

1-strongly disagree    2-disagree      3-neutral       4-agree        5-strongly agree

1. I am friends with at least two people on my wing____

2. I often go to someone else‟s room on my wing just to talk, watch television, or hang around ____

3. I am close enough with my neighbors that I would not mind them coming to my room to ask me

   to borrow something____

4. There are people who live on this wing who I have never met____

5. I spend a lot of time hanging around with people in the lounge____

6. I spend a lot of time in other people‟s rooms on this wing____

7. My conversation with my neighbors is limited to “hi, how are you”_____

8. I have borrowed an article of clothing from someone on this wing (Please answer 1-yes, 2-


9. I get along well with my current roommate. (If you have a single room, answer N/A)_____

10. I like having the bathrooms the way they are in this building (suite style versus traditional


11. Too many people live on this wing and I have a hard time getting to know all of them____

12. I am very homesick_____

13. My class status (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate student)_____________

14. My age_________
                                                                      Residence Hall Life

                                           Appendix B:

                                         Survey Results

                             Results of Surveys on College Residence Hall Life
Question     s1       s2       s3         s4        s5        s6      mean     standard deviation
        1         5      5          3         4          5        5       4.50        0.84
        2         4      5          4         3          4        5       4.17        0.75
        3         4      5          4         3          3        5       4.00        0.89
        4         1      3          4         3          5        1       2.83        1.60
        5         4      1          3         1          1        1       1.83        1.33
        6         4      5          2         3          1        5       3.33        1.63
        7         1      1          4         4          5        4       3.17        1.72
        8         2      1          2         2          2        2       1.83        0.41
        9      N/A       5          5         5          5        5       5.00        0.00
       10         4      1          2         1          1        3       2.00        1.26
       11         2      1          3         1          2        1       1.67        0.82
       12         3      5          2         1          1        2       2.33        1.51
       13   JUNIOR    SOPH    FRESH JUNIOR JUNIOR             SOPH         N/A        N/A
       14        24     21         18        21         22       19      20.83        2.17

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