How does a university create a culture of affinity where students seek and maintain life-long connections to the institution? The purpose of this action research study was to examine how affinity increased or developed for undergraduate students at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus through meaningful student-centric activities. Three theoretical frameworks guided the study including the work of Baumeister and Leary, Kuh, and Ajzen.
In this mixed method study, quantitative data about affinity, attitude, toward Arizona State University was collected using pre- and post-intervention surveys and qualitative data were gathered through individual semi-structured interviews at the conclusion of the study. Study participants were degree-seeking, undergraduate students whose degree programs were affiliated with the Polytechnic campus. The study was conducted during the first semester for first-year students. The intervention was implemented over a four-week period and consisted of providing information and opportunities to students to initiate connecting to the institution.
Quantitative data exhibited slight upward changes or slight to modest decreases in the dependent variables between pre- and post-intervention assessments. Qualitative data provided a content-rich explanation that helped in understanding the quantitative results. For example, students indicated high behavioral beliefs, attitudes toward involvement, and intentions. Moreover, they demonstrated high levels of connectedness and loyalty to the institution. Discussion focused on describing the complementarity of the data, explaining outcomes relative to the theoretical frameworks, limitations, implications for practice and future research, and lessons learned.