The Relationship of Demographic, Aspirational, Situational, Employment, and Commuting Factors to Commuter Students' Perceptions of Mattering at a Large Public University
Wicker, Adrienne Hamcke
McEwen, Marylu K
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The purpose of this study was to explore the predictive ability of demographic, aspirational, situational, employment, and commuting blocks of variables to commuters' feelings of mattering at a large, public university. The relationship of these variables and mattering to GPA and overall satisfaction were also explored. Finally, this research developed psychometrically sound scales from the Student Satisfaction Inventory to measure aspects of the mattering construct. Data for this study came from the 1999 administration of the Student Satisfaction Inventory to upperclass students in Professional Writing classes at the University of Maryland. Only students who indicated that they commuted to campus were included in the analyses. Exploratory factor analyses (N=646) were employed to create three mattering scales: Positive Attention, Institutional Commitment to Diverse Populations, and Personalized Academic Advising. Blocked hierarchical regression (N=524) was performed to assess the relationship between race, gender, educational goal, institutional choice, class load, class level, resident life experience, college, employment status, location of employment, commute status, and commute distance to mattering. As secondary analyses, blocked hierarchical regression was again employed to examine the relationship between these variables and the mattering scales to GPA and overall satisfaction. Significance was set at p. <.05. Overall equations were significant for the Positive Attention and Personalized Academic Advising scales. Commute distance and type of commuter did not emerge in any of the analyses as significant predictors of mattering, GPA, or overall satisfaction. For the Positive Attention scale, the aspirational and situational blocks were significant. The only block with significant predictive capacity for the Institutional Commitment to Diverse Populations scale was the demographic one. For the Personalized Academic Advising scale, the aspirational and situational blocks were significant predictors. Overall equations were significant for GPA and overall satisfaction. For GPA, the demographic, aspirational, situational, and employment blocks of variables were significant predictors. For overall satisfaction, the aspirational and mattering blocks were significant predictors. Implications from this research suggest that certain aspects of mattering are important in understanding commuter students' feelings of satisfaction with the university. Commuting specific aspects of students' experience, however, may not be as salient as attention to other variables.