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.
By Sarah Venables, Laura Bell