Residential Colleges and First-Year Experience: A Case Study of the Honors Arts Residential College Model at Barrett, the Honors College
Undergraduate on-campus residential education is a topic of significant inquiry within the field of higher education, and specifically student affairs. It has become commonplace for institutions of higher education in the United States to leverage the intersections between academics and residence life in order to promote student success by offering on-campus housing options that strategically place students in residential communities that provide additional connection to the students' academic experience, often by major, college, department, or other focus areas. Such models vary by institution, but are often referred to as living-learning communities or residential colleges, depending upon their structure and goals. For example, Barrett, the Honors College on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University implements a residential college model within its student housing; honors students live and study together, with the addition of three "special communities" designed for students majoring in Engineering, Business, or the Arts. This honors thesis case study describes and investigates the impact the visual and performing arts Barrett residential community has upon its residents in their first-year college experience. Through the lens of student development theory, this research focuses upon examining this specific residential community in detail in order to gain an understanding of its effect upon residents' academic and personal well being.