A collective case study on student advocacy services for iGen students in higher education.
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Cloud, Lourdes Moreno, 1976-
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Generation Z or iGen is the current generation attending colleges and universities, and their needs differ from their predecessors. Public State University’s Student Advocacy and Assistance Office began shifting the services provided to this specific population to best serve them. Unlike prior generations, they are highly aware of themselves as individuals and crave more support. Gen Z is more diverse, technologically connected, and culturally and politically engaged. They crave autonomy yet need to feel validated (Twenge, 2017). iGen students rely on their generational characteristics of being dependent on technology, private, and inquisitive. They are more likely to have mental health issues such as anxiety and depression (Writter, 2017). Due to their mental health awareness, they seek and expect services that holistically support their educational journeys (Jones, 2019). They expect this support from faculty, staff, and peers (Rutter, 2019), not just from a clinician; therefore, it is the priority of the SAA Office to provide these services to them. The purpose of this qualitative collective case study was to establish a series of cases that narrate the iGen student perception of how services provided by the SAA Office impacted them while at the university. The research built upon the primary question: how do iGen students at PSU perceive the SAA Office’s services impacted them? The data collection included one-on-one interviews and journal collections of five iGen students who utilized the services of the SAA Office. The application of the student development theory, Nevitt Sanford’s Theory of Challenge and Support, guided the research process related to students becoming independent through overcoming challenges and engaging in support. The themes identified through a cross-case analysis were mental wellness, iGen student personality traits, and overcoming challenges as iGen students. These themes substantiated that the iGen college students need support from university staff to ensure their academic and personal growth, development, and success. The researcher sought to determine how iGen students felt that SAA services influenced their overall college experience at PSU. The results of this study reveal rich insights and beneficial recommendations for improving SAA services based on the perceptions of iGen students.
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