What is a Family-Friendly Campus? An Exploratory Study to Develop Student Research and Provide Practical Results

A. S. CohenMiller, Roza Sagitova, Svetlana Ogay, Yelena Tselenko, Aigul Shakhmanova, Amina Saburova


This study focused on an experiential graduate-level qualitative research course and a practical study to understand how family-friendliness is conceptualized at an international expatriate university in Kazakhstan. Student researchers worked collaboratively to reflect and engage in a research process including developing interview protocols, transcription, coding, and analysis. From this work, students developed research capacity and uncovered four key components to family friendliness, including: safety, financial support, infrastructure and facilities, and sense of community. These were re-analyzed through Clark’s (2000) border theory resulting in two major themes: safe, simple life on campus (physical borders) and sense of support (psychological borders). This study provided three important outcomes: (1) engaging students within a graduate level course in creating and conducting a collaborative exploratory qualitative research study, (2) uncovering results about the importance of family-friendliness on campus for international parents/faculty, and (3) providing recommendations to develop family-friendliness to support recruitment and retention in higher education institutions. For students studying higher education leadership for future careers as administrators, academics, and researchers, understanding these experiences and results provide insights to develop equitable university environments.

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