Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Major

Education

Date of Defense

8-3-2010

Graduate Advisor

Kent A. Farnsworth, PhD

Committee

Dixie Kohn, EdD

Mary Utley, PhD

Shawn Woodhouse, PhD

Abstract

In recent years violent crimes on several university campuses have been highlighted by mass media, drawing national attention to the issue of campus crime. Not all college campuses, however, experience the same level of crime. While community colleges serve roughly half of all undergraduates in the U.S., statistically these public institutions account for a much lower percentage of violent crimes than their public four-year university counterparts. With the thought that perceptions and beliefs govern one’s behavior, this study considers the possibility that elements of institutional culture influence student perceptions about campus crime. Two hundred and sixty-five (265) college students, from three community colleges and three public four-year universities in the state of Missouri, responded to a written survey indicating their perception of the level of severity of 13 crime scenarios. Resulting Crime Perception Scores were statistically tested with respondent demographic variables of age, gender, ethnicity, type and location of residence, type of institution attended, and size of population center supporting that institution. Results of this study reveal that elements of institutional culture intrinsic to the student, such as their age, gender and ethnicity, significantly influence their perceptions of crime severity. Likewise, elements extrinsic to the student, such as whether they live on or off campus, and the size of city supporting the college or university, also significantly influence these perceptions. The results of this study help expand the current level of understanding about campus crime, filling a gap in current research on the topic, hopefully increasing the awareness of campus administrators, and prompting those officials to consider appropriate solutions or counters to the serious threat posed by campus crime.

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Education Commons

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