Some fifty years ago, researchers based at Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education launched a series of innovative studies on the character and disposition of undergraduate students in America’s colleges and universities. It was part of a wave of interest in the student experience and views, bolstered by the surge in university enrollment and a national commitment to mass higher education. Paul Heist, T.R. McConnell, Martin Trow, and Burton Clark, all affiliates of the Center, pioneered studies on student culture, and incorporated surveys as one method of analysis. Between 1958 and 1966, Trow and Clark, for example, teamed up to create an influential typology of student subcultures and a number of studies that still stand as a landmark contribution to the understanding of student life. In part based on survey research at Berkeley, Clark and Trow depicted student involvement as a product of two kinds of orientation: identification with the institution and its social life, and engagement with the intellectual and scholarly life of the university. As a result, they identified four distinctive student subcultures: (a) Collegiate, (b) Vocational, (c) Academic, and (d) Nonconformist. Those with Collegiate and Vocational predilections had relatively low academic engagement, while students in the Academic group scored high on both dimensions. Although ranking low in institutional identification, the nonconformists were engaged in intellectual matters and issues related to art, literature, and politics.1The student protest movements, influenced by the rise of the civil rights movement and then opposition to the war in Vietnam, intensified interest in student subcultures and examination of student experiences. These became part of an effort to understand a radically new youth culture and to seek institutional improvement through greater understanding of student perceptions and needs.
September 1, 2007
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
Brint, S., Douglass, J. A, Flacks, R., Thomson, G., & Chatman, S. (2007). A New Generation: Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, Immigration and the Undergraduate Experience at the University of California. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.