A social causal model approach to college student disciplinary offender status

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Despite an abundance of studies on the characteristics of college students described as campus disciplinary offenders, few studies have attempted to investigate the reasons why certain students end up as violators of campus social policies.

The purpose of this study was to construct and test a causal model of college student disciplinary status. Containment Theory, Control Theory, and Involvement Theory served as the theoretical foundation of the study. Variables in the model were operationalized from the College Student Experiences Questionnaire. Data were collected from a sample of students classified as campus disciplinary offenders by the residence life office judicial system of a large land-grant university and from a sample of non-offenders at the same institution.

The data were analyzed using path analysis procedures. Results indicated that there was only partial support for the linear causal model tested. Important findings were: (a) background variables directly affected disciplinary status, a finding consistent with previous research, (b) the model did not work differently for males and females, (c) students' satisfaction with their choice of college directly impacted on disciplinary status, (d) students' perceptions of the campus interpersonal environment and their personal vocational gains indirectly effected disciplinary status when mediated by the satisfaction with their college choice.

In general, person-environment fit was proposed as the factor having an overall effect on disciplinary status. It was suggested that further testing of the model should occur and that a reciprocal causal model, rather than a linear model, might yield more information about the factors influencing disciplinary status for certain college students.