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UBC Undergraduate Research

Identifying Recreation Gaps for Graduate Commuter Students Zepedeo, Stephanie; McCollough, Laurila; Baldigara, Cole; Minhas, Gurleen; Randhawa, Ryan


Our research project identified the barriers faced by kinesiology graduate students who commute to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in accessing and participating in recreation programming on campus. Previous research indicates that commuter students are more likely to face barriers such as inconvenient timing of on campus activities compared to ideal and practical commute times and therefore are less likely to participate in recreation programs offered on campus compared to students who live on or closer to campus. These barriers also included workload, finances, and other responsibilities such as teaching assistant and volunteer positions. Kinesiology graduate students were a group of interest as they are highly educated in terms of the social, mental and physical benefits of regular physical activity. This project aimed to seek participant input in establishing the major barriers and the potential and desired solutions for low participation by commuter graduate students. Graduate students have been established as having lower participation rates in recreation on campus and unique barriers compared to undergraduate students. The recruitment process for this specific population was to reach out to all kinesiology professors listed on the UBC’s faculty directory and request connecting our researchers to their graduate students. Five semi-structured interviews approximately 15 minutes in duration were carried out with our participants. Questions asked about their current involvement in recreation on and off campus, their satisfaction with said participation, their commitment inside and outside school, their commute time and planning, as well as potential solutions that would benefit the specific issues raised by their circumstance. Data collected indicated a few major themes in the barriers specific to commuting grad students. Firstly, the commute in itself left students with less free time in the day, a calculated time on campus around classes which left smaller time for leisurely time on campus, and less energy to participate. Secondly, graduate students mentioned higher levels of stress due to an increase in financial burden in taking on a second degree, as well as an increased workload as a result of teaching and research commitments. Students were deterred from investing that same time and money into recreation rather than more highly prioritized work and school. Using the direct suggestions of participants and inferred solutions based on their interview a list of recommendations for changes to programming was created. 1. Scheduling of games on campus to coincide more suitably to when commuter students are on campus and can transit home at a reasonable time. 2. A formation of satellite leagues in hubs central to large populations of commuter students in the suburbs of the Greater Vancouver Area. 3. Have more gym space and lower rates to participate in events. 4. Capitalize on underutilized campus space to cut costs and develop more independent/low commitment grad student intramural platforms targeted at stress relief. 5. Partnering with other organizations to offer programming if times are not convenient for the current staff as well as lessening the cost and workload by expanding the management to other groups on campus with resources. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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