Social Sciences — GDP6

Examining the Relationship between Intramural Sports Participation and Sense of Community among College Students, Chelsea A. C. Phipps

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4 thoughts on “Social Sciences — GDP6

  1. phippsc09

    Dr. Kain,

    Yes, that is something I have considered for possible future research (to survey all students, participants of intramurals or otherwise) to see the differences in sense of community experienced. In speaking with my thesis committee, they too suggested that as a good next step, should I choose to pursue this work down the road in some way.

    With regards to the poster itself, yes this was my first time putting one together and it was compiled by using my thesis as a framework. I have received other feedback since then (I presented a similar poster at the NIRSA Conference in Tampa last week), and others also agree that it is too text-heavy. I’ll definitely be taking all of that into consideration for any future poster presentations I may be doing :)

    Thanks again to both of you for your interest and feedback – I certainly appreciate it!

  2. kaind

    Hi Chelsea–
    I’m very late posting comments here and I apologize for that.
    Thanks for responding to Dr. St. Amant’s questions. I had similar questions. I appreciated reading your answers. You motioned in your answer to Question 2 that all the respondents to your survey had participated in intramural sports. Your current study provides some interesting findings about the factors that affect participants’ attitudes and feelings about various aspects of participating in the intramural activities.
    If you’re going to pursue this work, you might consider surveying all students to see if there are differences in sense of community between those who participate in intramural sports and those who don’t. If indeed those who participate in intramural sports have a more positive experience of the campus community or their experiences at school than those who don’t, that would certainly help make the case for participating in intramural sports and recreation. On the other hand, findings could indicate that other types of activities elicit similar feelings.

    I was wondering if you created your poster from a paper as the poster included quite a bit of text. I think next time you create a poster, you might consider paring the text down to the essentials so that you have more room for your data displays. People viewing posters are generally looking for the highlights and want to see the data displays.

  3. phippsc09

    Question 1:
    I chose to focus on intramural sports, specifically, due to personal interests. Involvement with campus recreation has been in a long-standing passion of mine, as I have worked within the field of intramural sports for the past seven years as a student, and now most recently as a professional. I began work on this research as a second year graduate student at ECU, during which time I was the Graduate Assistant for Intramural Sports with Campus Recreation and Wellness. It was this personal connection that pushed me to want to learn more, and discover if there were any significant relationships between the two. All of this research pertaining to sense of community is, in fact, the basis for my Master’s thesis, which is in its final stages to complete this summer 2012.

    Question 2:
    Yes, the sample consisted entirely of students at ECU, and more specifically, those who had participated in intramural sports at some point during the 2010-2011 academic year. This specific sample used for the research is a limitation of the study, as the results cannot be generalized outside of ECU’s campus population. Looking to the future, I would like to run similar studies on other college campuses to expand the data set, and look for any potential similarities in the findings, thereby allowing for greater generalization of results.

    Question 3:
    Yes, those could all be potential communities to study in future research also, when examining sense of community levels experienced. The particular instrument used (SCI-2) had not previously been used in a) a university setting, or b) intramural sports setting, hence why I thought it would be interesting to apply the research tool to this particular population, and see what relationships may exist. That being said, I see no reason why the same instrument couldn’t also be applied within other co-curricular communities, such as living learning communities, student athletes on sports teams, student sports officials within intramural sports, executive officers within club sports, Greek organizations, etc. Looking to more of the classroom or academic side of things, I think sense of community could also be researched within certain majors and/or concentrations, to see the interpersonal relationships that are built in one degree program as compared to others.

    Question 4:
    The findings could be used to increase effectiveness within communities by understanding what shortcomings may exist within a particular community. For instance, the SCI-2 asks questions related to influence, and is specifically gauging to what extent the influence within the community is bi-directional. McMillan and Chavis (1986) state the importance of the group/community having influence over its members, but also allowing members to influence the group as a whole. This could be used to shift the classroom learning environment from a solely teacher-driven course, to a more holistic learning approach, incorporating input from students also. In this way, students could take greater ownership for their learning, and contribute to decision-making with regards to topics covered and objectives of the course.
    In contrast, looking to more of a co-curricular environment outside of the classroom, results from the SCI-2 could reveal important findings regarding membership. One possible conclusion from my research as to why intramural sports participants did not score as highly on the membership subscale (as compared to other subscales) is the lack of tangible “branding” within the program. Aside from the coveted intramural champion t-shirts (that only a select few are fortunate enough to earn), members of the intramural sports community have no way to identify as a group. McMillan and Chavis also state the importance of common symbols, clothing, tangible items, slogans and the like, so as to allow members of the group/community to better relate to one another.
    One prime example of this on ECU’s campus could be the Polar Bear Plunge. All students who participate in this annual tradition receive a unique t-shirt, specifically designed for that year’s plunge. Students across campus can easily identify with one another and excitedly ask “Oh, you did the plunge this year too?” thereby sparking a new conversation, quite possibly with a complete stranger. It could then be said, possibly, that the Polar Bear Plunge participants may score higher on the SCI-2 Membership subscale, due to their greater ability to identify as a community.

    Question 5:
    I certainly think there are several different initiatives that may assist in maintaining the sense of community levels experienced amongst first year students, as they grow and broaden their campus experiences/involvement. One such possibility could be the introduction of an incentives program, to reward students who continue to participate within intramural sports year after year. Students could receive points for each activity in which they participate, which would accumulate over the course of their students career at ECU. Upon reaching set milestones for the number of sports they have participated in, students could receive a coveted prize – again, something tangible, branded and identifiably tied to intramural sports. I think this would be one additional way that students could relate to one another and feel like “part of the club,” for having been involved with the intramural sports community for an extended period of time.
    That’s just one idea from a marketing stand point, but I think it would eventually lead to a self-sustaining community, that would continue in cyclical fashion as new freshmen joined and upper class students graduated.

  4. stamantk

    Question 1: Why did you select intramural sports and rec centers as the focus for examining the topic of learning development vs. some other co-curricular activity such as a campus club or a greek organization?

    Question 2: Did all of the subjects/students in your sample come from ECU? If they were all ECU students, how might this factor affect your findings?

    Question 3: Can the kinds of co-curricular communities you examine in your research include classroom/teaching and learning situations? If not, why not? If so, how?

    Question 4: How might we use/expand upon your findings to develop more effective communities — and more effective individual participation — in other kinds of group activities (e.g., the classroom/learning context) in order to improve learning development?

    Question 5: Your findings “suggest that freshmen experience a greater sense of community within intramural sports as they may have yet to make connections with other groups or organizations on campus, and rely on intramural sports as their social network” (1st sentence of 2nd paragraph of “Conclusion” section of poster). Is there any way to maintain such communities/connections and maintain/sustain the community as first year students begin to develop broader and more diverse networks and belong to a wider range of organizations (i.e., communities) on a campus?

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