Research

ACUI’s core purpose is “to be the leader in advancing campus community builders.”

A primary strategic direction of the Association is to “be recognized as the leading expert and vital resource of information and new models for successful campus community building.”

The strategic plan goes on to propose the identification of a research agenda as one step toward achieving our desired future. In 2012–13 a Research Task Force was charged to define "research" and "research agenda" as well as to identify research topics of high priority. The Board of Trustees has since approved the following definitions:

Research:
The goal of ACUI-supported research is the discovery of new knowledge that benefits the college union and student activities profession and informs the work of college union and student activities professionals. ACUI defines research as the process of systematic inquiry into the college union and student activities profession.

Research Agenda:
ACUI’s research agenda is focused on the development and dissemination of knowledge that supports the work of college union and student activities professionals, creates theoretical frameworks that inform practice, addresses gaps in literature, and links practitioner and scholar. The Association’s research agenda is aligned with the strategic direction of the Association and responsive to issues facing the profession with the goal of contributing to and improving the work of college union and student activities professionals.

The Research Task Force identified eight topics of high priority based on the review of prior member surveys (the 2012 research survey, 2012 core competency assessment, and the 2011 needs assessment) and compilation of other materials peer associations' research agendas and ACUI’s 2010 environmental scan. In addition to the topics, potential questions are offered to be answered through empirical investigation and inquiry.

For more information about ACUI's research efforts, please email acui@acui.org.

 


 

Research Agenda Topics

Student learning 

To better understand how college unions and student activities influence student learning and how such educational contributions can be maximized.

Potential questions for consideration related to this topic:

  • What is the impact of the college union (as a facility, an idea, and program) on student learning outcomes?
  • What is the impact of programming on student learning outcomes?
  • What is the relationship between student engagement and student development success?

 

College union creating community

To identify the ways in which the college union can be most successful in building campus community.

Potential questions for consideration related to this topic:

  • How can physical space best be used to facilitate community building?
  • What barriers exist to building community in the college union?
  • Is the physical structure still necessary to building community on campus?
  • How do college union professionals build community beyond a building?

 

College union impact

To understand the college union’s impact and influence on the larger campus and surrounding community.

Potential questions for consideration related to this topic:

  • What methods can be used to best gauge the college union’s relevance to the campus and surrounding community?
  • How does the college union compare to other community building spaces on campus and what are opportunities for collaboration and partnership?
  • How do different audiences use the college union and what are the future needs of each?

 

Technology and social media

To investigate the relationships between technology and the college union.

Potential questions for consideration related to this topic:

  • How has technology changed the role of the college union?
  • What role does social media play in the college union?
  • How does computer mediated communication influence college union services and involvement?

 

Changing student populations

To understand how the college union can better serve changing student populations.

Potential questions for consideration related to this topic:

  • What role does the college union have in the development of graduate students, veteran students, and other diverse and growing populations?
  • What are best practices for engaging different student populations?

 

Student employment

To find further evidence supporting the positive outcomes of students’ employment in the college union.

Potential questions for consideration related to this topic:

  • What is the impact of student employment in the college union on retention, academics, and student learning?
  • How does satisfaction with the college union (facility, services, programs) contribute to student retention?

 

Student programming

To understand how participating in and planning campus programs contribute to students’ development and learning.

Potential questions for consideration related to this topic:

  • What are the current programming models and how effective is each in serving its institution type?
  • How does participation in various programming types influence student learning outcomes? How do these outcomes differ from those attained through planning programs?

 

Facilities and operations

To identify the role college union facilities and operations play in supporting the mission of the institution.

Potential questions for consideration related to this topic:

  • How do certain operations policies/procedures assist or hinder community building?
  • What standards and benchmarks should be met when planning and maintaining a college union facility?
  • How does the physical condition of the college union positively and negatively affect student satisfaction?
  • How do facilities and operations shape the campus environment and ecology?
Updated Sept. 30, 2014