UGR Post 1: Transgender/gender nonconforming college students & retention

My name is Matt Scheller, and I am a junior in the honors college, studying applied psychology with a queer studies minor. I have been a queerleader captain with the LGBTQA & Social Justice Center for the past year and just joined this research project this semester. I am working alongside the Center Associate Director Erin Furey and Graduate Assistant Emmett Griffith in researching transgender and gender nonconforming (T/GNC) college students and retention. Currently, our goal is to compile a literature review, which we would use to aid us in putting together a survey and focus group(s) investigating what the specific needs of trans and GNC students are, and what could be done from an institutional standpoint that could help them stay in school.

This research is important because it would be able to guide us in eventually developing a possible intervention model geared towards increasing T/GNC student retention at colleges and universities.  At this point, we have been essentially starting from scratch, reviewing articles previously pulled for the project while searching for new ones to possibly include in the eventual literature review. As Gabe had noted in his previous posts, subject matter in the articles that are being reviewed do not immediately respond to our specific subject of T/GNC college students and retention, so the articles we are looking at tend to span subjects such as transgender students’ mental health, perceived campus climate for LGBTQA students and their college experiences, and retention models and implementation strategies, among other slight variations of these subjects. Our immediate goal for the remainder of this semester is to compose this literature review.

So far, it has been interesting to read through these articles and notice what similarities can be drawn from their findings and conclusions. For example, I have been noticing across multiple articles that retention strategies for LGBTQA students, as well as other student populations, investigate factors such as campus climate, classroom climate, and strength of the student-faculty relationship when determining the most significant influences of retention. There seems to be a large focus on using trainings, support groups, and first-year initiatives in these articles as potential ways to foster a more accepting climate and positively influencing retention. I look forward to delving more deeply into drawing these connections and seeing what other findings can be made throughout the remainder of this literature review process this semester.