RESEARCH NOTE | What Is the Relationship Between the Student Staff Experience and Intent to Return?

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Student staff members—commonly known as resident assistants or community assistants—support primary functions in our residence halls, facilitate community development, and provide learning opportunities to residents. For a position so critical to residence life, in particular one that continues to evolve and grow, it is imperative that we understand the current experience of our student staff, what they learn, and how important quality student staff members are to the broader college student experience. However, even with all of this research and our anecdotal understanding of the importance of the position, little empirical research exists on what RAs gain from their experience and how quality RAs relate to the overall housing experience of residents. Furthermore, what research does exist is often limited to single-campus studies or qualitative research.

This research note details findings from the ACUHO-I/Benchworks Student Staff Assessment, specifically a sample of over 3,000 student staff from 43 institutions. In particular, this research notes explores the relationship between the student staff member experience and their intent to return to their positions in the following academic year.

Key Questions:

  1. How many student staff members intend to return to their positions?
  2. What aspects of the student staff experience are most closely related to intent to return?