“Conversation Wall”: A Study of Anonymous Texts Written on the Wall of a College Building

Mieko Yamada[1] & Christopher LaFontaine[2]


[1] Dr. Mieko Yamada, Department of Sociology, Purdue University-Fort Wayne, 2101 East Coliseum Boulevard
Fort Wayne, IN 46805, yamadam@pfw.edu
[2] Christopher LaFontaine, clafontaine27@yahoo.com



This article presents a study undertaken to investigate how effectively the “Conversation Wall” project serves to connect between students and the student support program at a Midwestern university. The Conversation Wall project has been launched by using the glass window space located in front of the Center for Student Support Program. It serves as a tool for learning about students’ perceptions and experiences related to their campus as well as social and cultural lives. To conceptualize anonymous texts written on the wall, graffiti studies are applied to this study. Both graffiti and texts written on the wall can be loosely defined as writing or drawings on a publicly accessible surface, and they are considered an important source of data for the analysis of cultural production and language use. A total of 1309 texts were transcribed and subjected to content analysis. The results reveal students’ social and cultural lives, the campus climate, the issues that the students care about, and what they need from their university. This article discusses findings and provides recommendations for further improvement to the Student Success Program.

Keywords: Evaluation research, Textual analysis, Graffiti studies, Higher education, Self-expression.


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