TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (5): 726-736.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003057

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Exploring the Dimensions of University Students’ Place Identity Based on Grounded Theory and the Exploratory Factor Analysis Method:A Case Study of Wuhan University

GUO Wenlu1a,ZHONG Saixiang1a,LIU Yanfang1,YANG Yuying2   

  1. (1.a.School of Resource and Environmental Sciences;b.Key Laboratory of Geographic Information System,Ministry of Education,Wuhan University,Wuhan 430079,China;2.School of Architecture and Urban Planning,Tongji University,Shanghai 200092,China)
  • Online:2018-09-05 Published:2018-09-05


Place identity, as one of the core concepts in Local Theory, has attracted a great concern of researchers in the field of Environmental Psychology, Tourism Geography, Cultural Geography and Behavioral Science in recent years. However, there are few researches concerned about the university students’ place identity in this microscopic scale. University students' place identity (the following is the same as USPI), not belonging to the rooting place identity (like residents’ place identity to residence), nor the appreciating place identity (like tourists’ place identity to tourist place), nor the recreational place identity (like beguilers’ place identity to bar or cafe), but is a special place identity. It has an essential difference between those place identities. Thus, it is especially urgent to carry out studies on microscopic cultural spaces. The place identity of university students needs to be fully understood. In order to explore the dimensions and structure of USPI, this paper selected Wuhan University as a case to conduct an empirical research from the students’ perspective. Involving theoretical construction and empirical test, the research used grounded theory and exploratory factor analysis method to enrich the theoretical connotation of USPI and provide reference for further research. First-hand data was collected from unstructured interviews. Grounded theory, as an inductive research approach, was taken to find out the dimensions of USPI. Then on this basis, the questionnaire was designed and explored by exploratory factor analysis method to measure USPI. The study found that USPI is comprised by five dimensions-cognition, emotion, behavior, self-efficacy and commitment, which have a close relationship between each other; USPI is relatively high in Wuhan University. As a double top university, it attracts many students all over the country to be here to study. They are influenced by its natural environment, humanistic environment, academic atmosphere, and outstanding alumni, which results in a strong sense of place identity; Admission time, department, native place and college aspiration are the main factors in the formation of USPI. Students' different personal background will lead to the difference of place identity and its various dimensions. With the increase of age, university students’ place identity declines first and then rises. As to faculty, students in faculty of arts and sciences and faculty of communication have higher scores than faculty of medicine. As the college entrance examination voluntary order decreases, university students' place identity also shows a trend of falling first and then rising. Local students have higher scores than students from other provinces. This research is expected to contribute towards studies of microscopic cultural spaces in geography.

Key words: university students, place identity (USPI), dimensions, grounded theory, exploratory factor analysis, Wuhan University