Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Christine A. Ogren

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation study was to critically examine college student alcohol use in the context of the microenvironment of residence halls, the transition of the national minimum legal drinking age, and the attitudes and experiences of University of Iowa students who lived on campus from 1980 to 1995. The following research questions guided this study: 1) What were the attitudes and experiences of students living in the University of Iowa residence halls before, during, and after the change in the national minimum legal drinking age? 2) What were the individual experiences of students in the residence halls, in particular their alcohol behaviors? 3) What were students' attitudes towards policies and rules regarding alcohol? 4) How did non-residential students or staff members view student alcohol behaviors within the residence halls? 5) How might this information provide context and inform our understanding of the culture and environment we have on campus today?

This study merged nested case study, historical methods, and oral history in order to address the research questions and best represent individual attitudes and experiences. Existing research on college student alcohol use and the influences of environment and peer groups, as well as the researcher's own background, informed and framed the study. Qualitative data sources for this study included nineteen participants, who were students, staff members, or administrators during the 1980s and 1990s. Guided interviews combined with artifact analysis were employed.

Four over-arching themes emerged as a result of participants' attitudes and experiences provided during interviews: culture, residence halls, permissiveness, and sociability. Lessons learned include the importance of the culture and environment, the influence of residence halls norms, and the role of the university in shaping college student alcohol use. The national minimum legal drinking age transition seemed to affect few, if any, of my participants. My participants' attitudes and experiences during the time period of 1980 to 1995 did not depend on what year my participant was on campus in relation to the national minimum legal drinking age as all my participants faced similar experiences throughout the years of my study. The time period on campus was not as significant in shaping experiences as was the culture that had developed over time.

Public Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation study was to critically examine college student alcohol use in the context of the microenvironment of residence halls during the period of transition to the national minimum legal drinking age, and the attitudes and experiences of University of Iowa students who lived on campus from 1980 to 1995. The following is the primary research question that guided this study: What were the attitudes and experiences of students living in University of Iowa residence halls before, during, and after the change in the national minimum legal drinking age?

Existing research on college student alcohol use and the influences of environment and peer groups, as well as the researcher’s own background, informed and framed the study. Qualitative data sources for this study included interviews with 19 participants who were students, staff members, or administrators during the 1980s and 1990s. Additionally articles, advertisements, and photographs in The Daily Iowan and Hawkeye yearbooks were analyzed.

Lessons learned include the importance of the culture and environment, the influence of residence hall norms, and the role of the university in shaping college student alcohol use. The transition to the national minimum legal drinking age seemed to affect few, if any, of the participants in this study. Drinking policies and the years on campus were not as significant in shaping my participants’ experiences as were the campus culture and environment surrounding alcohol use.

Keywords

publicabstract, Alcohol, College Students, National Minimum Drinking Age, Residence Halls

Pages

xi, 170 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 149-159).

Copyright

Copyright 2016 Angela Aileen Reams

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