Exploring & Identifying Predictors That Affect Asian American College Students' Sense of Belonging: "How Do I Fit In?"

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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship among various college environment factors, specifically living on campus, on-campus employment, mentorship, involvement in college organizations and student groups, socio-cultural discussions, and perception of nondiscriminatory climate and how these relationships potentially affect Asian American college students' sense of belonging. Data came from the 2009 Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership, which had a robust Asian American sample that included 6,786 Asian American college student participants. Descriptive analysis was conducted to provide an overview of the sample under study in terms of gender, parents' education, high school involvement, major, institutional characteristics, live on-campus, work on-campus, have a mentor, involvement in college organizations and the type of college organization involvement. Through mean comparisons, distribution of sense of belonging was analyzed between all Asian Americans and the three subpopulations being investigated which were Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Asian Indian Americans. A one-way ANOVA was used to determine if there were differences in perception of sense of belonging between the ethnic subpopulations as well as from the overall Asian Americans college students and a random sample of non-Asian college students. Astin's (1993) college impact I-E-O model was used to design blocked hierarchical multiple regression models to test and identify significant predictors of sense of belonging for all Asian Americans and the three subpopulations. T-tests were conducted and significant differences between standardized and unstandardized beta coefficients were evaluated.

Several key findings emerged from this study to include the most significant predictors of Asian Americans' sense of belonging were the perception of a nondiscriminatory climate on campus and participation in socio-cultural discussions with peers. Other significant predictors include having a mentor and being involved in a college organization particularly student governance and campus wide programming types of student groups. Scholars and practitioners within the field of higher education can continue the work from this study in disaggregating the data on the many Asian American ethnic groups to better understand their respective needs, and in turn, improve services and programs that strengthen this growing constituency's sense of belonging and collegiate success.