Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Changes in Clark-Trow Subcultures from 1976 to 2006: Implications for Addressing Undergraduates' Leisure Interests

Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Changes in Clark-Trow Subcultures from 1976 to 2006: Implications for Addressing Undergraduates' Leisure Interests

Article excerpt

Unrest in the early 1970s stimulated a need to understand undergraduates' motivations. The Clark-Trow Typology (Clark & Trow, 1966) examined student behavior (i.e., academic, collegiate, vocational, and non-conformist) according to identification with the institution and involvement with ideas. The Student Interest Survey included questions based on the Typology, and was administered at five-year intervals beginning in 1976 to undergraduates at a research extensive institution. Results suggested statistically significant shifts in subcultures. For example, the percentage of students in the academic subculture declined from 37% in 1976 to 18% in 1996, whereas the collegiate subculture increased from 17% in 1976 to 34% in 1996. Differences in leisure interests within subcultures are discussed, along with implications for addressing undergraduates' leisure interests.

The 1960s were an extraordinary decade in higher education in the United States. Brubacher and Rudy (1997) viewed the student revolution of the 1960s as "the most portentous upheaval in the history of American student life" (p. 349). Astin (1998) noted that the late 1960s through the early 1970s was a period during which rapid and widespread changes occurred in the perspectives and expectations of entering college students. The study of college students became popular as social scientists attempted to understand the changing perspectives of college students, and by the end of the 1960s, Feldman and Newcomb (1969) published the first systematic summary of how college affects students.

One of the major treatises regarding student cultures to be published during this period was Newcomb and Wilson's (1966) College Peer Groups, in which Clark and Trow (1966) described four subcultures (i.e., academic, collegiate, nonconformist, and vocational) as a vehicle for understanding student behavior. In spite of Clark and Trow's (1966) advice that the subcultures not be used to categorize students, Warren (1968) concluded that "...the need for conceptual schemes to describe students is apparently great enough for the Clark-Trow subcultures to have been used for that purpose in spite of their deficiencies" (p. 214). The two core dimensions of the Clark-Trow Typology (Newcomb & Wilson, 1996, p. 25) are the extent to which a student identifies with the institution and the extent to which a student is involved with ideas. The four subcultures are defined based on the intersection of the two dimensions: (a) Academic subculture defined as much involvement with ideas and much identification with the institution; (b) Collegiate subculture defined as much identification with the institution and little involvement with ideas; (c) Vocational subculture defined as little identification with the institution and little involvement with ideas; and (d) Non-Conformist subculture defined as much involvement with ideas and little identification with the institution.

According to Wilder, McKeegan, and Midkiff (2000): "Clark and Trow can be credited with conceptualizing distinct student types, stimulating a searching for underlying student dimensions, and launching a major body of research in student characteristics and student development" (p. 527). The initial studies of the Clark-Trow Typology were conducted over a relatively brief span of years from 1968 to 1981. Several were reliability and validity studies (e.g., Kees, 1971; Kees, 1974; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1977; Warren, 1968) that affirmed the Clark-Trow model.

In the late 1990s, research on the Clark and Trow subcultures and other student typologies reemerged in a series of studies (Wilder, Midkiff, Dunkerly, & Skelton, 1996; Wilder, McKeegan, Midkiff, Skelton, & Dunkerly, 1977; Wilder, McKeegan, & Midkiff, 2000). Kuh, Hu, and Vesper (2000) provided new understandings of the relevance of the set of subcultures and the usefulness of typologies more generally, and commented about the Clark and Trow typology as follows: "Its lasting popularity is due to its parsimony and heuristic applications" (p. …

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