Research on Learning Communities
In general, research states that engagement in Learning Communities helps students develop a network of supportive peers, make connections between their academic and social experiences, and develop a deeper appreciation for the many ways knowledge is constructed (Tino, Love, Russo, 1994).
In Stier (2014), Tinto also states that “to persist, students need integration into formal (academic performance) and informal (faculty/staff interactions) academic systems and formal (extracurricular activities) and information (peer-group interactions) social systems.”
In addition, the National Survey of Student Engagement Annual Report (2007) -based on data from four-year colleges and universities - identified Learning Communities as one of ten “high impact undergraduate practices”.
In addition, Minnesota State Mankato participated in the National Study for Living-Learning Programs (NSLLP) survey in 2010. The survey was sent to 263 first-year learning community participants and 262 non-learning community first-year students. One hundred and twenty-seven (127) learning community students responded (48.3%) and 80 non-learning community students responded (30.5%). The NSLLP data indicated that, as a whole, "living-learning students" were more likely than their counterparts to engage in positive, strengthening activities such as discussing academics and social issues with peers, and showing a better commitment to their education and welfare.
Inkelas (2016) reports that living-learning communities thrive when there is an equally supportive partnership between academic and student affairs representations, which is evident in our partnership with Residential Life in the planning, coordination and support for unique situations.
Findings from the National Center on Teaching and Learning Assessment related to learning community involvement:
- Participation in a first-year learning community enables students to develop a network of supportive peers that aids students in their transition to college.
- These peer groups also help students meet and learn from others from a greater diversity of backgrounds and traditions.
- Students report a high quality of social climate, engage in more informal contact with faculty and report a more intellectual atmosphere in their residence arrangement.
- Learning Communities bridge the gap between the social and academic lives of students.
- Students perform better academically and are more likely to persist in college.
- Because of a feeling of obligation to peers, members of Learning Communities are more likely to attend class regularly than those not in Learning Communities.
- Collaborative classroom teams offer students ownership of their learning, as they become active participants in their education.
- Collaborative learning encourages an appreciation for diversity, as students are encouraged to express their views and life experiences.
- Learning Communities have a significant, positive indirect effect on student academic and personal growth and development, mediated by the living environments that they shape.
- Collaborative learning and Learning Communities foster students’ involvement in academic and special activities provide a welcoming and supportive campus climate and promote classroom involvement.
Pascarella, Terenzini, and Blimling through several years of research have found that students involved in Learning Communities exhibit the following characteristics:
- They report a high quality social climate, engage in more informal contact with faculty and report a more intellectual atmosphere in their residence arrangement
- They perform better academically
- They are more likely to persist in college
- They have a significant, positive indirect effect on student academic and personal growth and development, mediated by the living environments that they shape.
Pascarella, E.T., Terenzini, P.T. & Blimling, G.S. (1994). The impact of residential life on students. In C.C. Schroeder, P. Mable & Associates , Realizing the Educational Potential of Residence Halls. (pp. 22-32). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.