Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty about Learning Communities

What exactly are Learning Communities?

The program is aimed at fostering transition to college, by providing academic and social support. Learning Communities place small groups of students (no more than 24) into cohorts that are enrolled into some common courses. The students also have the opportunity to live on the same residence hall floor or area, as well as attend weekly events and study sessions. 

What is the purpose of Learning Communities?

The Learning Communities Program is intended to promote a variety of activities commonly linked with enhanced general education outcomes:

  • Stronger student academic achievement
  • Higher levels of student retention
  • Greater student-to-student interaction and social support networks
  • Increased faculty-student interaction
  • Established academic support networks
  • Eased transition to college
  • Higher levels of satisfaction with college experience

What is my role as an Instructor of a Learning Community Course?

You can be as involved as you wish. We highly value your time and energy, yet also understand the many professional and personal time commitments you already have.  Many faculty choose to do some or all of the following

  • Communicate with the Learning Community Director
    • The Director of Learning Communities has an academic interest in the students in the Learning Communities. If an individual student is struggling in your class or is having other difficulties and you are concerned, it is within FERPA guidelines to disclose this. Our staff can help get the student connected to tutoring, counseling services, or other resources on campus.  Also, please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions about your role in the program, upcoming events or anything relating to the Learning Communities or first year students in general.
  • Attend Learning Community Events 
    • LCC’s may ask you to attend social events, academic support activities, dinners, etc. Please participate to the level you are comfortable with.
  • Participate in Study Groups
    • You don’t need to give Learning Community students any advantage over traditional students. If you are helping with a study group, treat it as you would treat a student who has come to your office for help. You can also open up study groups to the entire class.
  • Assist Learning Community Coordinators in planning events
    • Your LCC may contact you for ideas on what kinds of activities to plan to help support Learning Community students’ academic success. Please share your thoughts and ideas to help make the program stronger. One event in particular is the Make-A-Difference Project, where Learning Community students are expected to get involved in a service project on our campus or in our community. It is fantastic if their projects can be tied to students’ majors or what’s going on in class.
  • Communicate with your Learning Community Coordinator
    • If you begin to notice that your Learning Community students are struggling in your course, let your LCC know. Of course, this must be kept within the FERPA guidelines, so this is best used if you’re seeing a trend with a number of Learning Community students in your class. If you have concerns directed toward an individual Learning Community student, call the Office of First Year Experience.
  • Respond to LCC Emails and Calls
    • Even if the answer to the LCC’s question is “no”, take the time to respond. They would rather hear that you cannot help them with their request than hear no answer at all. 
  • Get to know students

 Has the program been successful at MSU Mankato?

Yes! We can say that both anecdotally and hard data point to the fact that the program has been successful for a large percentage of students. 

What students participate in Learning Communities?

Any and every new entering freshman is eligible to join a Learning Community. There are a variety of majors and interest areas represented from year to year. Also, typically there are upper-level learning communities for Elementary Education, Business, Nursing, Transfer and Honors.  

 How do I know who my Learning Community Coordinator is?

Your Learning Community Coordinator will make contact with you within the first week of the fall semester to introduce themselves.  Meet the LCC’s

 What do Learning Community Coordinators do?

Learning Community Coordinators serve as a peer mentor to the students in the community.  They plan social events, study groups, and service projects, as well as serve as a go-to person for the students in their community.  They also work with faculty who are interested to set up times to meet with the learning community to socialize outside the classroom.

 What do students say about the program?

“My favorite part of the learning community is belonging.  It was really nice to have a community of people I could relate to at the very beginning of the year: we're kind of like a great big family.  When everything was new and a bit scary, it was reassuring to have that small support system of my learning community.” – Elementary Education Major

“The learning community has done more for me then I could ever imagine.  It has connected me with the campus, to the faculty, and not to mention the best friends that I have gained for life.  It has helped me stay focused to my goal, and is preparing me for the future.” – Nursing Major