Boundary Management in Action: A Diary Study of Students’ School-Home Conflict

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Abstract

Contemporary technologies enable students to be “connected” with friends, family, student peers, and their study materials 24/7. This study aimed to examine how college students’ boundary management enactment (BME; ranging from segmentation to integration) related to school-to-home conflict and home-to-school conflict and, subsequently, to school performance, satisfaction with home life, and home-school balance. Moreover, this study aimed to establish whether these relationships depended on students’ boundary management preferences for segmenting school from home, and home from school. A diary study was conducted among 122 students from a major university in the Netherlands. Students completed an online questionnaire and online daily surveys over a period of 5 consecutive days of study. Results supported that students experienced more school-home and home-school conflict when they integrated rather than segmented school and home. Also as predicted, integration related to lower school performance, lower home life satisfaction, and lower balance, and these relationships were mediated by increased conflict between home and school life. Students’ preferences did not moderate these relationships. This indicates that segmenting school and home life roles seems to be the advisable strategy for students, irrespective of their preference for segmentation. Students would benefit from increased awareness of the advantages of segmentation and ‘how to’ training sessions that teach them how to set boundaries between school and home.

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