Public Sociology @ Sam Research Initiative: Equity & Student Success at SHSU

Public Sociology @ Sam Research Initiative: Equity and Student Success at SHSU


In the spirit of public sociology, the Sociology Department has launched a research initiative to study how issues of inequities impact student success at Sam Houston State University. SHSU students come from diverse backgrounds, and many students face challenges as a result of a range of social inequities, including class, race, and gender. The Sociology Department is implementing a research initiative to examine how social inequities affect the college experiences and academic performance of SHSU students. The aim of this initiative is: (1) to better understand disparities and the ways they affect student experiences at SHSU, (2) to facilitate the development and implementation of programs and policies to assist student success, and (3) to foster academic excellence. Currently, the initiative has three projects.

 Student-Parents: An examination of Role Conflict and Potential Unmet Need in Student Support Services (PI: Dr. Stykes)


More than one-in-four college students is also a parent, but the experiences and needs of student-parents remain understudied. Juggling the demands of parenthood and school is no small feat, and we know this juggling act often coincides with barriers to graduation and retention. This study examines the student-parent experience at SHSU. It aims to identify unmet need and strategic points for institutional support to empower student-parents in their pursuit of academic excellence.

 Improving Food Security on Campus: An examination of Student Challenges, Needs, and Assistance Programs (PIs: Dr. Hatanaka and Dr. Scherer)


College students have higher rates of food insecurity than the general population. When encountering financial limitations, one of the first areas students sacrifice is their food needs. Food insecurity can negatively affect many aspects of a student’s life, including physical well-being and mental health, academic performance, and family life. This study conducts a needs assessment of food insecurity among SHSU students. It aims to contribute to designing effective programs and policies that improve the food security of SHSU students.

 Diversity, Equity, and Online Education (PI: Dr. Scherer)

Despite the return to in-person instruction, traditional students at regional public universities like SHSU are opting to take more courses online. Previous research suggests that socioeconomic background, high school preparation, and age impact students’ ability to succeed in online courses compared to in-person classes. In the current climate of online course-taking, the active, social component of learning is treated as optional when in fact it may be essential for underserved students’ academic success. This study explores the relationship between SHSU students’ background characteristics and online course-taking decisions, experiences, and outcomes with the goal of informing relevant institutional policy and practice.


If you are interested in learning more about any of these projects, please contact the Sociology Department Chair, Dr. Jason Konefal, at or (936)-294-1511.