Psychological Sense of Community in a Liberal Arts Environment
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This study explores psychological sense of community (SOC) amongst students in a small liberal arts college. Relevant literature shows that SOC can be divided into 4 major categories for testing; integration and fulfillment of needs, influence, general membership, and emotional connection. Three hundred thirty-three students completed an adapted version of the sense of community index (SCI) for collegiate communities. The adapted version of the SCI separated integration and fulfillment of needs into academic needs and social needs. The experimenter hypothesized that the participating college would score high in academic needs and group membership, low in social needs and emotional connection, and mid-range for influence. The results showed that students rated the fulfillment of their academic needs the highest, followed by general membership, influence, social fulfillment, and finally, emotional connection. Since the students reported feelings of satisfaction with the level of academic challenge at the institution and comfortable with their feelings of belonging, the institution should focus on improving the social aspect of the community. If the social aspect of the community were to improve by the students standards it is likely that their feeling of emotional connection would as well. The results also showed a significant change in SOC between first year students and seniors which implies that there is a negative change that occurs during the four years spent at the institution. It would be beneficial to the college to put effort into finding possible reasons for the changes, in order to create more positive feelings in students as they become alumni.