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Exploring Students' Engagement With and Construction of Community

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Sense of Community is related to numerous positive outcomes for university students. The purpose of this study was to explore sense of community amongst low income students who received a last dollar scholarship. This study also sought to understand how

Sense of Community is related to numerous positive outcomes for university students. The purpose of this study was to explore sense of community amongst low income students who received a last dollar scholarship. This study also sought to understand how students define community and how they interact with communities from their past (before university), present (since they started college), and how they envision their future community involvement after graduation. Through purposive sampling, six low income Arizona State University students were selected based on similar characteristics. The scholarship that they belong to selects them based on financial need, integrity, and prolonged commitment to community service. Using a qualitative narrative inquiry, I interviewed participants about their understanding and experiences with communities. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim for analysis. Based on the analysis, I identified three major themes: community as construction, community as nonlinear, and community as intersectional. Drawing from participants' definitions and experiences of community, I argue that community is a construction. In other words, individuals create their own constructions of community, and their actions vary based on that construction. Participants also experience their communities intersectionally, that is individual's experience their communities as coexisting and through multiple community perspectives, rather than as a single stand-alone entity. Finally, community does not exist as part of a linear time paradigm. Instead community is experienced in terms of relevance to the individual in creating meaning from that community. In addition to the above themes, I also examined participant perspectives of ASU as a community. Based on this research, I recommend that a platform be provided for students to engage in a dialogue about their understanding of community and interactions with communities. Moreover, I suggest researchers utilize intersectionality, constructionism, and non-linear time to frame future research on sense of community. This research is significant because it helps us understand student engagement, and offers a framework through which universities can provide students an opportunity to better understand their own sense of community.

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2017-05

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The Influence of Class Nonlinear Dynamics and Education on Socio-Economic Mobility

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The dissertation addresses questions tied in to the challenges posed by the impact of environmental factors on the nonlinear dynamics of social upward mobility. The proportion of educated individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds is used as a proxy for

The dissertation addresses questions tied in to the challenges posed by the impact of environmental factors on the nonlinear dynamics of social upward mobility. The proportion of educated individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds is used as a proxy for the environmental impact on the status quo state.

Chapter 1 carries out a review of the mobility models found in the literature and sets the economic context of this dissertation. Chapter 2 explores a simple model that considers poor and rich classes and the impact that educational success may have on altering mobility patterns. The role of the environment is modeled through the use of a modified version of the invasion/extinction model of Richard Levins. Chapter 3 expands the socio-economic classes to include a large middle class to study the role of social mobility in the presence of higher heterogeneity. Chapter 4 includes demographic growth and explores what would be the time scales needed to accelerate mobility. The dissertation asked how long it will take to increase by 22% the proportion of educated from the poor classes under demographic versus non-demographic growth conditions. Chapter 5 summarizes results and includes a discussion of results. It also explores ways of modeling the influence of nonlinear dynamics of mobility, via exogenous factors. Finally, Chapter 6 presents economic perspectives about the role of environmental influence on college success. The framework can be used to incorporate the impact of economic factors and social changes, such as unemployment, or gap between the haves and have nots. The dissertation shows that peer influence (poor influencing the poor) has a larger effect than class influence (rich influencing the poor). Additionally, more heterogeneity may ease mobility of groups but results depend on initial conditions. Finally, average well-being of the community and income disparities may improve over time. Finally, population growth may extend time scales needed to achieve a specific goal of educated poor.

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2020