Academic journal article College Student Journal

Special Places for Students: Third Place and Restorative Place

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Special Places for Students: Third Place and Restorative Place

Article excerpt

The purpose of this article is to understand from a student perspective the special places of third place and restorative place. Where do students, the users of these spaces, locate them, what kind of places are they, how do they use them, and how often do they use them. To answer these questions, a structured autoethnography qualitative research design was employed. The students' responses to the structured field notes were analyzed using the method of constant comparison to answer the foregoing questions. The results are discussed in relation to the significance for the growth and well-being of students and their importance to the health and future of university and college campuses.

Concept of Place and the College Campus

Sense of place is often described as the emotional attachment to a particular geographical/physical space. In addition to general exploration of this concept (Hiss, 1990; Gallagher, 1993) academic writers and researchers have also focused on the concept of sense of place. (Hubbard, Kitchin & Valentine, 2004; Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983; Tuan, 1994). A direct application of the sense of place concept to the campus environment has also been explored (Bott, Banning, Wells, Hass, & Lakey, 2006; Demonica & Oguerk, 2002; Kenney, Dumont & Kenney, 2005; Reeve & Kassabaum, 1997; and Sturner, 1992). These studies have related the sense of place to the general campus ecology and suggested that the concept plays an important role in making the campus more attractive for prospective students, contributing to higher retention rates once enrolled, and increasing institutional giving by alumni (Reeve & Kassabaum, 1997). In addition to the concept of sense of place, two additional place concepts have meaning for student life as well--third place and restorative place.

Third Place

The concept of third place was coined and developed by sociologist Ray Oldenburg (Oldenburg 1997, 1998,2001). The definition of third place is that place outside of home and work that serves as a place to find comfort, retreat, and community. Oldenburg (2001) gives the following explanation: "... third place," a setting beyond home and work ... in which people relax in good company and do so on a regular basis. "... is their version of the once popular television series Cheers" p. 2

Oldenburg (1997) also discusses the application of this concept to college and university environments. Specifically he notes its importance as a place to bring students together for forming community (Santassiero, 2002). The purpose of this study is to view third place not from a conceptual perspective, but from the student's perspective and use. Where do students, the users of third places, locate them, what kind of places are they, how do they use them, and how often do they use them. In addition to third place, this study also addresses restorative places.

Restorative Places

Restorative environments are places to relax, rest, recuperate, unwind, and feel safe. They are places that offset the effects of mental fatigue (Kaplan, Kaplan, & Ryan 1998). The elements of restorative places are also outlined by Kaplan, Kaplan, & Ryan, 1998) as follows: (a) being away need a place other than the source of the fatigue; (b) extent--a place that is different, whole, has coherence; (c) fascination--a place that relates to thinking, doing, wondering, figuring out things, predicting and recognizing; (d) compatibility--a place that is a good fit to one's inclinations. The implication for designing the campus environment is evident. Almost all campus designs have some focus on restoration, but again this concept would be enhanced by knowing how students view restorative space Again, the purpose of this article is to report on a series of studies that were designed to answer the question: Where do students, the users of third place and restorative place, locate them, what kind of places are they, how do they use them, and how often do they use them? …

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