Instagram Live sessions planned for residential communities on July 19

Residence Life and Student Housing has scheduled Instagram Live sessions for students and families to see their assigned residential community on Monday, July 19! Join us for your community’s session below.

Download the PDF of the Instagram Live schedule.

What is Instagram Live?

Instagram Live is a feature that works within Instagram Stories and allows users to broadcast live videos to other users on the platform. Instagram Stories are shown at the top of the feed. Any accounts that are currently live will include the “Live” icon.

To view an Instagram Live video, simply tap on the Story thumbnail. The image below of John Mayer performing on Instagram Live shows the viewer’s interface.

Missed your Instagram Live session? 

Follow your residential community on Instagram and visit their saved stories to view the session content.

Important deadlines approaching – Updates and reminders for a smooth Move-In  

Residence Life and Student Housing is eagerly awaiting and preparing for the return of students to campus in August. The best way to ensure a smooth move-in process for you or your student is to make sure you meet deadlines for your SMU ID photo, move-in timeslot, and loft request (see below for dates). This allows our team to be ready for your arrival.  

The following updates and reminders about these items and much more were sent to residential students on June 18, 2021:  

 

* * * 

 

We hope your summer is off to a good start.  Here are some reminders, important dates, and other information as you prepare for August move-in.  Please be sure to read the e-mail in its entirety, as there are some upcoming deadlines and other action items included. 

SMU ID Photo Upload 

All incoming students will need to upload a self-photo for the SMU ID on the ID Card System. The deadline to complete this task is July 1.  Please note that students without an approved SMUID Card photo are not eligible to get their housing assignment in mid-July.  It is important to complete this task by July 1.  

Sign Up for a Move in Time for Fall Semester 

We know that many of you may be eager to set your travel plans in place. You can sign-up for a move-in time in the SMU Housing Portal. Please note, time slots are available on a first come, first served basis and may fill quickly. If your plans change, you are able to modify your timeslot until the deadline, July 31. 

Loft Request Information and Planning 

Many students choose to have their beds lofted. The loft request form is available on the SMU Housing Portal.  The deadline to submit a request is July 31.  Requests received after the deadline will be completed after move-in. 

What to Pack 

As you prepare to join us on campus, look at our helpful packing guides to ensure you bring the essentials and leave at home items SMU already provides! Also be sure to read through our prohibited items list so you stay safe while on campus: 

Meal Plan Information 

All students living in the residential commons, Perkins Hall and Smith Hall are required to have a meal plan.  The SMU Dining Services website has information about meal plans, flex dollars, dining locations, dining menus, sustainability and health and wellness.  

Helpful Information to Consider 

As you prepare for your arrival to the Hilltop, follow the links below for more information. 

You probably have many questions about what you will experience this fall.  Be sure to check your email regularly so you don’t miss important information.  Here’s when you can expect to hear from us again: 

Mid-July: New Student Building Assignments and Move-In Instructions 

July 19: Live video tours of your assigned building.  More details will be included in the New Student Building Assignment email 

Early August: Roommate Confirmations and Final Move-In Details 

Your SMU e-mail address will be our primary means of communication. Please be on the lookout for more updates! Pony Up! 

 

#BlackAtSMU Film Set to Premiere April 21

The #BlackAtSMU film centers around five tweets posted by Black students about their experiences at SMU in 2020. Each tweet will have its own dedicated chapter in the film and address the topics of police brutality, racism in the classroom, in athletics, and Greek life at SMU through documentary and narrative film segments. The film is directed by SMU students Aysia Lane and Crislyn Fayson. 

 

Image promoting the film
Image by #BlackAtSMU

After wrapping up filming in February and March, the #BlackAtSMU film is set to premiere Wednesday, April 21 at 8p.m. on Dallas Hall Lawn.

 

The film is the result of nearly nine months’ worth of planning and study, and the dedicated work ethic of the film’s entire production crew and cast.  

 

“Crislyn really put in a lot of legwork December in January to prepare for February shooting,” Aysia said. “And that’s also with our producer Jillian Taylor. That’s also with Shara our assistant director, as with Amber and then Everton Melo…The amount of work that went in on that front side was insane. We had eight hour 10 hour calls. I’m planning, planning, planning, like making sure we have like a very firm outline, making sure like the vision is very clear.” 

 

Crislyn and Aysia initially heard about the film through word of mouth, from fellow Meadows students. Professor Amber Bemak was inspired to make a film about the tweets, and so the two joined her class, which centered on research and discussions about race. 

 

At the end of the semester, the two found out they were the only ones able to continue with the course and documentary, and became co-directors for the film.  

 

 “And then all of winter break, we just hit the ground running with bringing this to life,” Aysia said. 

 

Part of that process was obtaining funding, which the HUB and RLSH Academic Initiatives contributed to after Crislyn had a chance conversation with Dr. Dustin Grabsch at the Owens Arts Center.

 

“He ends up asking me about my major and stuff and I end up telling him that we’re planning to make a film about #BlackAtSMU,” Crislyn said. “He gave me his card and I gave it to Amber, and little did I know. Little did we know that he would bless us with an opportunity we never would have thought.” 

 

In addition to the HUB and RLSH Academic Initiatives, Film & Media Arts Studies Division, Ignite/Arts Dallas, SMU Meadows School of the Arts, and Engaged Learning are contributors.

 

Another part of the production process included building the production crew and cast. Crislyn and Aysia said the auditions left them amazed. 

 

“The level of talent at this school is unreal,” Aysia said. “The work ethic of these actors, of the talent that we’re working with – unreal, they’re amazing. And the way that they were able to tell these stories that have been just like living in our heads for so long, and then translate it so beautifully on screen – I could have never asked for anything better in 1000 years, they were so amazing.” 

 

During production, Aysia and Crislyn focused in on how they were going to tell the story, and thought a lot about who this story was for.

 

“Because I think originally, our hearts were naturally thinking of the people who would possibly be negatively impacted, who might be like, ‘Whoa, I feel like this is about me or white people,’” Crislyn said. “We were worried about white people, and what they would think. And we realized what a hindrance that was to the tweets, to the storytellers, to the courage that it took for them to do that, in spite of what they may face. So we did a 180.” 

 

Aysia agreed, saying that getting the students’ stories right was important to the both of them. 

 

“There were moments where I was like, Okay, are we really doing their story?” Aysia said. “What would they actually do? Are we telling it accurately –  asking them like, do you feel like this is accurate, is accurate? You’re feeling what you were thinking. Because at the end of the day, like, like we said, we won’t be here. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those stories. And they’re trying to tell that story. So I think it was really important for us to make sure that we’re staying true to that, that we’re showcasing it properly, and that most importantly, people can relate to it.”

 

That idea was part of the driving force for creating this film.

 

“I will say for me, being black at SMU, and knowing due to its history that this campus, this school was not created for you from its foundation,” Crislyn said. “In having to deal with and face the repercussions of that history as a black student directly is enough, more than enough, to take action.” 

 

Aysia and Crislyn believe this film will help facilitate a long-awaited discussion about race and SMU. 

 

“All those weird feelings that we have when talking about race – this film is going to be a way of foundation, a platform for people to have these discussions,” Aysia said. “And to make it like okay, well, we watched this together, we experienced this together. Let’s talk about it finally.”

 

The film is set to premiere on April 21, 2021. Follow the @blackatsmufilm handle on Instagram for updates and relevant links to the film. There will be a facilitation of a semi-structured discussion following the premiere.

 

Meet the Directors

 

Aysia Lane

 

Aysia Lane is majoring in Journalism and Film, with an Arts Entrepreneurship minor. In addition to co-directing the #BlackAtSMU film, she is an editor and podcast producer at the Daily Campus, PR for the Association of Black Students, and works with Undergraduate Admissions in Meadows. 

 

Crislyn Fayson

 

Crislyn Fayson is majoring in Theater and Film. In addition to co-directing the #BlackAtSMU film, she is involved with BLM at SMU, and is a leader for Cru student ministry on campus. 

 

Researcher Insights: Mixing it Up

SMU Undergraduate Researcher Dedeepya Chinnam is currently a member of the Academic Initiatives Research Team. Dedeepya is a sophomore studying Business Analytics and Supply Chain Management and Statistics, and plans to add Economics to her degree. On campus, she participates as a Caswell Leadership Coach with the Office of Student Experience, Secretary for both the Indian Student Association and Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), and Treasurer for  Feminist Equality Movement and Hegi Career Development Ambassadors. She also founded the KPOP Club among many other accomplishments. Dedeepya joined the research team in November 2020. 

The project, A Sequential Exploratory Mixed-Methods Study: Motivations of Undergraduate Students to Pursue Multiple Majors, aims to analyze why students choose to study multiple majors to aid the development of and understanding for curriculum committees, academic departments, and collegiate administrators.

The team comprised of six people: advisor Dr. Dustin Grabsch, Dr. Sheri Kunovich, Laura Bell, Hannah Webb, Ryan Leibowitz, and Dedeepya Chinnam. Dr. Grabsch led and designed the project, and Dr. Kunovich helped with data collection, organization, and secondary coding and qualitative analysis. 

“Ryan, Hannah, and I were the undergraduate research assistants and have been responsible for initial secondary research and literature review,” Dedeepya said. “We have recently completely 37 interviews with Laura and Dustin. We are conducting qualitative coding using the thought unit coding for all the interviews which we will then assess to form categories and derive themes from established categories.”

The study consisted of qualitative and quantitative factors, which is why it’s called a mixed methods study. By collecting and analyzing both qualitative and quantitative factors, the study provides a deeper dive into the motivations of students. The main qualitative component, student interviews, concluded March 14. The interviewees were selected through the random sampling of a roster of multiple-majoring students. Out of 200 emails sent out to those selected, 37 interviewed and completed a demographic survey. Quantitative data collection will be through a survey.

“We are still in the process of [analyzing the data] and have not determined the underlying common themes but there are some commonalities in terms of motivations, disadvantages, and advantages of multiple majoring that are already arising which we are excited to be looking into,” Dedeepya said. 

After the initial round of interviews, the team held a second peer debrief session focused on discussing specific factors that led students to pursue multiple majors. These factors included the influence of family or friends, having an innate love of learning, or gaining new perspectives and ways of thinking through exposure to more of their peers. 

“[The participants] think it is an important factor to consider especially at SMU since multiple majoring is a part of the culture at SMU,” Dedeepya said. “An interesting conversation that I had with a couple of students was about how their perception on this matter is influenced by the groups they are exposed to and think through the research they would be able to get a more informed idea on motivations and thought process of other students who decide to follow a similar path as them.” 

The study found the concept of multiple majoring a huge part of perceived SMU culture. The results of the study should help to inform faculty and advisors about students’ academic decisions and aid the students in their educational goals.

“For example, when asked how many people in the student population might be multiple majoring at SMU most students thought realistically it would be 60-70% though they feel like it is 80% most times,” Dedeepya said. “This is different from the actual percentage of students pursuing multiple majors at SMU, but it shows the impact multiple majoring has on our community.” 

Dedeepya says the team hopes to send the study for review and publication by the end of the Spring 2021 semester. She credits the team’s fast-paced work method and consistent, weekly check-ins for the efficiency of the project. 

“One of our team members was talking about compared to how tiring this semester has been – be it the snow week, the lack of cohesiveness in class structuring due to that or the lack of spring break – the research has been a steady and consistent effort every week and it is super helpful since we know what to expect and put time aside for,” Dedeepya said. 

According to Dedeepya, participating in this research – and student research in general – provides great opportunities to learn how to improve the student experience, provide learning experiences, and helps develop critical thinking and team collaboration.

“I think it makes me self-aware of points of growth and help me work from there through the reflection I get to do as I go through the research process,” Dedeepya said. “I also gain firsthand access and support to faculty and professors on campus from whom I can learn from greatly.” 

Dedeepya wanted to join the team for a myriad of reasons, including making a visible, positive impact for her university community, participating in collaborative, purposeful projects, and to further develop learning skills that would aid in pursuing her future career.

“It was an avenue to explore research since I am considering going on to graduate school and becoming a professor,” Dedeepya said. “The experience I am gaining here has nothing but reinforced my interest in the field.”

Dedeepya participated in SMU Research Days this year. You can watch her presentation on the SMU Research Days 2021 website! Dedeepya says the group also plans to have the manuscript completed by the end of the semester, and will eventually present their information to the SMU Division of Student Affairs for professional development. 

Want to learn more? Head to the RLSH research webpage to read more about our individual research projects.

 

A Sequential Exploratory Mixed-Methods Study: Motivations of Undergraduate Students to Pursue Multiple Majors (SMU IRB: H21-004-GRAD) 

This project seeks to understand the motivations of undergraduate students to pursue multiple majors. Utilizing a sequential, exploratory mixed-methods design, in phase one we will interview students who are currently pursuing multiple majors to determine themes in their expressed motivations. Following the development of themes, we will issue a brief survey instrument to undergraduate students with multiple majors to determine the prevalence of each motivation theme within the student body. Findings will aid undergraduate general education curriculum committees, academic departments, and higher education institution administrators. 

 

Dedeepya can be contacted at dchinnam@smu.edu. If you’d like to learn more about the Academic Initiatives Research Team, please email academicinitiatives@smu.edu.

 

by Laura Bell, Sarah Venables

Researcher Insights: Defining Data

SMU Researcher Autumn Beck is a junior majoring in Business Management and Film and Media Studies, with minors in Chinese and Law and Legal Reasoning. In addition to participating in research, Autumn is Director of Community Collaborations for the Housing Unification Board (HUB), VP of Programming for Program Council, and a non-voting member of the Wilkinson Center for the SMU Board Fellows Program. Autumn is part of a five-member team who developed the project, A Content Analysis of College Student Proposed Definitions of Sense of Belonging to a Residential Community.

 The research included an inductive content analysis of responses to the survey questions the team developed.

“We asked [students] about a variety of factors that measured their sense of belonging to their Residential Commons and about what specific factors developed that sense of belonging,” Autumn said. “We noticed many students put much of the burden of creating a sense of belonging on the leadership of and spaces within the Commons.”

As a student leader who works a lot with the Residential Commons and students’ sense of belonging, Autumn wanted to participate in research that proactively continued to enhance the student experience. 

The research started in July; Autumn collaborated in writing the survey, organizing and analyzing the data, developing a definition, and writing the manuscript. The team recently sent off a manuscript for publication. 

“We submitted the manuscript for publication to ACUHO-I: The Journal of College and University Student Housing,” Autumn said.

Autumn also recently presented findings from the Belonging study at SMU Research Days 2020-2021. You can find her recorded presentation on YouTube.

As a result of the project, Autumn said she realized that “belonging” is more subjective than the team initially thought. For instance, living in Boaz Commons provides a different experience than living in Crum Commons. While the experiences are different in their methods, both contribute to a students’ sense of belonging.

 

A Longitudinal Study of Sense of Belonging to a Residential College (SMU IRB: H20-126-GRAD

Since the implementation of the Residential Commons (RC), SMU Residence Life and Student Housing has widely discussed the idea of residents belonging to their Residential Commons. Each Commons has a unique identity, crest, and members which has led to the creation of unique programs, traditions, and experiences for each RC. To this point, SMU RLSH has not identified or measured strategies for increasing belonging, or examined the impact RC belonging has on the overall student experience. This research is focused on identifying factors that cause affiliation towards a student’s Residential Commons. The research will be conducted in two parts, a pre and post-test, to examine student self-reported affiliation factors. Students do not need to complete both parts of the survey for research to be completed. 

Autumn can be contacted at anbeck@smu.edu. If you’d like to learn more about the Academic Initiatives Research Team, please email academicinitiatives@smu.edu.

By Laura Bell, Sarah Venables

Peer leader applications now available for 2021 – 2022 academic year

flyer to apply for positionsResidence Life & Student Housing (RLSH) provides a complete residential college experience that serves as a converging point for one-of-a-kind living and learning opportunities in dynamic Dallas.

We bring together partners from all over campus and Dallas to help us offer unique opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and SMU departments to get involved in life on campus. Undergraduate and graduate students can now explore opportunities to serve as a peer leader and to get involved with life on the Hilltop.

Applications are now available for the 2021 – 2022 academic year and are due March 5th at 11:45p.m. via bit.ly/applypeerleader. Available peer leader positions include:

Engage Dallas Student Director: The Engage Dallas Student Director leads the commons in service around their community need, and provides the community with a point of contact for all things Engage Dallas.  Student Directors plan and execute service events and educate the community about culturally conscious serving in South and West Dallas. Learn more about Engage Dallas.

Honors Mentor: From the beginning of the school year, Honors Mentors take an active role in welcoming the honors residents in their Residential Commons. They continue to meet informally with the honors students, serve as a resource, and encourage their participation in their Residential Commons and other University Honors Program events. Learn more and connect with your Honors Mentor.

Peer Academic Leader (PAL): Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) are a diverse group of undergraduate students with a common goal to help students better understand the University curriculum, utilize academic resources, and navigate academic challenges. Under the direction of the University Advising Center, PALs work directly with students in their residential community, empowering them to take ownership of their collegiate careers through mentorship and educational programming.

Peer Chaplain: Student leaders provide a listening presence to fellow students struggling with academic pressure, relationships, homesickness or other stressors through programming, 1-1 meetings, and small group settings. The aim of the peer chaplain is to help connect a peer’s personal experience to their purpose in life so that they find meaning not only in what they do but in who they are.

Student Wellness Champion (SWC): Student Wellness Champions are a diverse group of students trained to educate their Residential Commons and campus community about college lifestyle and wellness issues in a positive, interactive, fun, and nonjudgmental manner. In this program, students serve as liaisons for the Office for Community Health Promotion and the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center and act as health leaders on campus. Student Wellness Champions are given the opportunity to specialize in a health area of their choice: nutrition, mental health, physical activity, stress management, time management, sleep, resiliency, alcohol and drug prevention, sexual health, violence prevention, and healthy relationships. Learn more about the Student Wellness Champion program.

Questions about any of the above available leadership positions can be directed to Dr. Dustin Grabsch at dgrabsch@smu.edu or by calling 214.768.4887.

Researcher Insights: A Thriving Researcher

SMU Undergraduate Researcher Hannah Webb is currently a member of the Academic Initiatives Research Team presenting the results of the study Developing a Thriving Student Experience at the Texas Undergraduate Research Day in February.

Hannah has been a part of the team since October 2019, and is currently working on A Sequential Exploratory Mixed-Methods Study: Motivations of Undergraduate Students to Pursue Multiple Majors. Previously, she participated in the research project A Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations. In addition to participating in research, Hannah is a Resident Assistant (RA) in Armstrong Commons, a Senior Editor of SMU’s Journal of Undergraduate Research, and a Risk & Operations intern for NTT Global Sourcing. 

Now that Developing a Thriving Student Experience is in its final stages of development, the research team – comprised of fellow peer Nikita Kulkarni, and Dr. Dustin Grabsch, their faculty mentor – is working on publishing and presenting their work. During the project, Hannah worked on interviews and the people side of the research. 

“During the course of the project, I was responsible for conducting a literature review, interviewing participants, and writing portions of our manuscript,” Hannah said. “When we submitted our manuscript for publication to the Journal of Student Affairs Research & Practice, I served as the corresponding author.” 

As a result of the project, Hannah received a Summer Research Fellowship from the Office of Engaged Learning. This allowed her to present the research at SMU’s Fall Research Symposium. 

“Outside of the Symposium, I have also presented results from this study at two professional development sessions: one session was with the Division of Student Affairs professional staff, and the other was with the Armstrong Commons RA staff,” Hannah said. 

In addition to the symposium, Hannah, Nikita, and Dr. Grabsch would like to release their long-term research into the broader world of student affairs. 

“The Thriving research has been occurring since the fall 2019 semester began,” said Hannah. “We have submitted our manuscript for publication to the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, and we are continuing to publicize the results of our research to the campus community.”

Hannah says that this research has helped her to connect more as an RA with her residents in Armstrong Commons, and has bettered her overall as a student at SMU. 

“I have become more sensitive to the conflicts that underrepresented students face,” Hannah said. “As someone who is not a member of the underrepresented student groups we researched, I did not have any insight into these conflicts before starting the research. However, I am grateful to have learned about the experiences of underrepresented students so that I can use what I have learned in my other campus positions and help improve our campus for all students.”

The team intends to use their research to improve the collegiate experience of underrepresented students at SMU, according to Hannah. 

“We have drawn three key implications from our research that we hope SMU’s administration will consider: (1) SMU should provide support to underrepresented students through unexpected, external events; (2) SMU should employ identity-conscious programming; and (3) there is a clear need for interventions related to social connectedness of underrepresented students,” Hannah said.

Hannah and her peers plan to present the results of Developing a Thriving Student Experience at the Texas Undergraduate Research Day, a showcase for collegiate student research in Texas. 

Want to learn more? Head to the RLSH research webpage to read more about our individual research projects.

 

Developing a Thriving Student Experience (SMU IRB: H19-112-GRAD) 

The overall purpose of the study is to understand the thriving of underrepresented college students. For the purposes of this study, underrepresented students include transfer students, international students, and first-generation college students. This study uses a sequential exploratory design consisting of two distinct phases. In this design, quantitative, numeric data will be collected using the Thriving Quotient instrument. These data will aid in purposely sampling participants for the second phase. The second phase of the project will help explain or elaborate on the quantitative results obtained in phase one. Individual interviews will be used to elaborate on the quantitative findings for each of the underrepresented student groups. 

 

A Sequential Exploratory Mixed-Methods Study: Motivations of Undergraduate Students to Pursue Multiple Majors (SMU IRB: H21-004-GRAD) 

This project seeks to understand the motivations of undergraduate students to pursue multiple majors. Utilizing a sequential, exploratory mixed-methods design, in phase one we will interview students who are currently pursuing multiple majors to determine themes in their expressed motivations. Following the development of themes, we will issue a brief survey instrument to undergraduate students with multiple majors to determine the prevalence of each motivation theme within the student body. Findings will aid undergraduate general education curriculum committees, academic departments, and higher education institution administrators. 

 

A Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations 

With this study, team members will review past conference program materials for two leading residential college conferences, the Collegiate Way and the Residential College Society (RCS). This content analysis will reveal topics covered each year, and analyze repetition and importance of the material covered at each conference. This analysis will hopefully provide insight into common struggles of residential colleges nationwide.

 

Hannah can be contacted at hnwebb@smu.edu. If you’d like to learn more about the Academic Initiatives Research Team, please email academicinitiatives@smu.edu.

 

By Laura Bell, Sarah Venables

SMU homepage features Residential Commons

SMU website common connection campaignThe SMU homepage was updated last week to feature the common connections created via the Residential Commons.

The feature article proclaims “living on campus opens up a world of opportunity.” We agree.

The uncommon residential opportunity offered through SMU’s Residential Commons is a one-of-a-kind experience. We invite you to learn more from the linked resources related to roommate pairings, creating community, and strategies for becoming a great roommate.

We offer a special invitation to prospective residents and their families to review the multi-media elements including: videos featuring current students and our Faculty-in-Residence, interactive slideshow stories, and more.

After all, Residence Life & Student Housing fosters the foundational SMU experience where every student belongs, learns, and connects through their residential community. We hope you explore the ways our student-centered team works to make campus home.

Researcher Insights: Service and Surveys

Ryan Leibowitz is a senior, majoring in statistics and enrolled in the University Honors Program. Outside of academics, Ryan plays drums for the Mustang Band, and is a member of the SMU Service House. Ryan’s passion for community service has continued in his role on the Engage Dallas Research and Assessment Team.

Engage Dallas is a place-based community engagement initiative via SMU’s Residential Commons to address community needs focusing on south and west Dallas. The initiative is a long-term, university-wide commitment led by students to partner with local residents, organizations, and other leaders to positively impact the community. There is equal emphasis on campus and community impact stemming from the initiative.

According to Leibowtiz, the Engage Dallas Research and Assessment Team is currently working on two projects. He shares how these two projects have led him to connect his passions for service and data.

“One is designed to measure the impacts of community service on our undergraduate population, and the other is aimed at measuring the growth of the Engage Dallas Student Directors over the course of the year in their leadership roles,” Leibowitz said.    

Both projects will help inform stakeholders of the initiatives’ impact on students, both as participants and as student leaders.

“Right now, I am mostly involved in the design and implementation of survey instruments for both projects,” Leibowitz said. “I hope to also work in data analysis after we collect results from our surveys.” 

To collect the data, a pre, mid, and post survey are sent at particular milestones in the Engage Dallas program.

“Undergraduates who participate in Engage Dallas will fill out three quantitative surveys throughout the Canvas course,” Leibowitz said. “And Engage Dallas Student Directors will fill out three reflections and a final summative reflection over the course of the year, mostly collecting qualitative data.” 

In the planning stages of this research, the team looked at previous examples and projects put out by other universities and organizations to create a framework for the surveys.

“We started by determining what questions we wanted to answer about the impacts of Engage Dallas, which we narrowed down to our two main research focuses,” Leibowitz said. “After we had those questions, we looked at past implementations of community service programs at other universities to compose our surveys and develop strategies for conducting them at SMU.”

This framework has served as a cornerstone for the team as they continue to personalize the project to SMU’s goals and community.

“We are still working on developing meaningful questions to include in our Student Director reflections over the course of the year,” Leibowitz said. “Each of these reflections will be different in their focus depending on how much progress their Residential Commons students enrolled in Engage Dallas have made.” 

The data collection taking place this year will be used to fine-tune the Engage Dallas program before its larger rollout in Fall 2021.

“Looking to the future, this research will help us fine-tune Engage Dallas programs to create the best community service experiences for both students and Student Leaders,” Leibowitz said. “Hopefully, we will gain a better understanding of what students enjoy in terms of programming, education, and community partner organizations.”

In terms of the student learning experience within this research, Leibowitz says these projects have allowed him to utilize classroom skills and knowledge to produce tangible results that impact the SMU community.

“As a statistics major, I wanted to join the research team to gain experience in the data collection and analysis processes,” Leibowitz said. “I’ve also really enjoyed my time with this group because it’s allowed me to stay involved with community service, even if I can’t physically go out to volunteer this semester.”

 

Engage Dallas: Test Re-Test of Place-Based Community Engagement (SMU IRB: H20-129-GRAD) 

The overall purpose of this study is to determine the impact that a new place-based community engagement program has on undergraduate students at SMU. Engage Dallas, a new community engagement initiative that links undergraduate students at SMU with underprivileged communities in South and West Dallas, will be implemented beginning in Fall 2020 as an opportunity to fulfill the Community Engagement requirement of the University Curriculum. In order to measure the impact that this program has on participating students, a pre/mid/post-test survey will be designed and given to students. This instrument will be administered through Canvas, at the beginning of the student’s experience with Engage Dallas, after the student completes three engagements related to the course, and again at the conclusion of the student’s experience with Engage Dallas. An analysis of the completed surveys will allow us to determine the impact that Engage Dallas has on students’ attitudes toward community service and inform the larger higher education community.

 

Ryan can be contacted at rleibowitz@smu.edu. If you’d like to learn more about the Academic Initiatives Research Team, please email academicinitiatives@smu.edu.

 

By Laura Bell, Sarah Venables

Researcher Insights: From Findings to Task Forces

SMU Undergraduate Researcher Grant Stoehr is currently a member of the Academic Initiatives research team studying Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations. Grant is a sophomore studying Computer Engineering, with minors in Spanish and Mathematics. He also serves as a Resident Assistant in Ware Commons. Grant has been a part of the research team since September, 2019 when he joined the research team studying Impact of a Residential Commons Model on Students, Faculty, and Staff

The Impact of a Residential Commons Model on Students, Faculty, and Staff spanned a timeline of 8 months, which provided the opportunity for him to solve a variety of problems hindering the project’s progress. Examples include addressing a lack of data in certain areas or refining results and refocusing the research if there were too many pieces of information. 

The information brought forth by Stoehr’s research revealed what students think are the essentials of each Residential Commons faculty position. This data modified and guided the training of Faculty-in-Residences, Residential Community Directors, and Resident Assistants. The researchers who worked on this project are hopeful that the data discovered and sifted through during this project will later be used by other universities so that they can successfully move their universities over to a Residential Commons Model.

As a result, Stoehr’s research has positively impacted the SMU community. For example, the study Impact of a Residential Commons Model on Students, Faculty, and Staff led to the creation of a new task force that uses data gathered last year in order to fix problems that students, faculty, and staff saw within the university. In turn, Stoehr’s research and the resulting changes implemented on SMU’s campus can be shown to other universities conducting similar research.

The findings of this project were reported through a few different means. One avenue was a video that described the data and its meaning to Stoehr at SMU Research Days in May 2020. The video explained how the research can be used by SMU and other universities to build a concrete base that pleases everyone and helps to create the community that is sought after in a Residential Commons Model. 

Now, Stoehr’s research focuses on the Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations

“The purpose of the [Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations] project is to determine the themes of what is being residential college professional association conferences so that we can analyze the content and help to decipher if there is anything more that can or should be taught at these conferences to prepare professionals and Universities that use the Residential College model,” said Stoehr.

Through this new project, Stoehr is able to participate in research that will positively impact the way SMU runs the Residential Commons system, and have the opportunity to share the team’s findings with other universities as well. 

 “My role in the [Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations] is to help analyze the materials given to us by different conferences and to develop the methods section of our final report,” said Stoehr. “Data is being collected by hand by each of the student researchers from the conference materials that were obtained.” Materials for data collection included pamphlets and itineraries from the conferences since 2014.

The project is planned to conclude by winter break of this year, so that data can be finalized and potentially utilized as soon as next semester. 

Stoehr credits the research as an enriching part of his university experience and his understanding of SMU. 

“Benefits of undergraduate research are that you gain a deeper understanding of different research concepts, but you also begin to understand how the University runs, who it is comprised of, and how we are kept together,” Stoehr said. “It also helps you to understand how we are kept at the top of all universities in the United States.” 

Grant’s research has also given him experience that will be valuable for his future education plans.

“I wanted to join the research team because personally I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the inner workings of the University,” said Stoehr, “and because doing research now will help me prepare for research I would be doing if I try to get my masters or even my doctorate.” 

Want to learn more? Head to the RLSH research webpage to read more about our individual research projects.

 

Impact of a Residential Commons Model on Students, Faculty, and Staff (SMU IRB: H19-078-GRAD) 

With the significant human, fiscal, and physical investment of SMU in the Residential Commons model, the opportunity has presented itself to analyze the program’s effectiveness. This multifaceted needs assessment will produce two deliverables from focus group and survey data. First, an executive summary with a report of the needs assessment. The second deliverable will be a Residential Commons Research and Assessment Agenda. This agenda will outline the semesterly, annual, and long-term research and assessment efforts connected to the Residential Commons. Residence Life and Student Housing seeks to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of the Residential Commons in order to understand current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the program in its sixth year. 

 

A Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations 

With this study, team members will review past conference program materials for two leading residential college conferences, the Collegiate Way and the Residential College Society (RCS). This content analysis will reveal topics covered each year, and analyze repetition and importance of the material covered at each conference. This analysis will hopefully provide insight into common struggles of residential colleges nationwide.

 

Grant can be contacted at gstoehr@smu.edu. If you’d like to learn more about the Academic Initiatives Research Team, please email academicinitiatives@smu.edu.

 

By Sarah Venables, Laura Bell