Living-learning communities are designed to maximize academic and social benefits for their residents through meaningful interactions with faculty, coordinated learning activities, and support for success. New evidence recently confirmed that these living arrangements and programs can be associated with effective learning and persistence in college.
Recent research from the National Survey of Student Engagement, made possible by a grant from the ACUHO-I Foundation, looked at data from nearly 20,000 first-year students attending 76 bachelor’s degree-granting institutions with residential campuses. Results of the work showed that LLC participants engaged in a variety of academic and cocurricular activities in their place of residence far more often than did their non-LLC peers as shown below:
What’s more, the study showed that students who participated in an LLC experienced more effective learning in general. The LLC members more often interacted with faculty on substantive matters, collaborated on academic work with peers, and engaged in reflective and integrative learning activities. They also perceived the campus environment to be more supportive of their success and believed the institution contributed more to their growth in a host of developmental areas. Finally, LLC respondents were two percentage points more likely to persist (spring to fall) than non-participants. This was particularly true for male students, who returned at a rate 5.4 percentage points higher than did male non-participants (for female students, the difference was 1.5 percentage points).
Institutions lose large sums of money every year to attrition, both in sunk costs and to recruit replacement students; with the student debt crisis in the foreground, students’ persistence should be a priority for schools. These results affirm that living-learning communities offer clear benefits to both students and institutions, as seen in their positive correlations with student learning, engagement, and persistence.
— Kyle Fassett, Bob Gonyea, Kevin Fosnacht, and Polly Graham