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Signature Programs for Living-Learning Communities (LLCs)

Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs
December 15, 2019 Jacquelynn Thomas Angel Eason

In the over 3,000 four-year colleges and universities in the United States, there are more than 600 Living-Learning Community (LLC) programs (US Dept. of Ed, 2019; Inkelas, Jessup-Anger, Benjamin, & Wawrzynski, 2018). LLCs allow for students with common academic, cultural, or social interests to live together in on-campus housing. They work best when student affairs and academic affairs professionals work together to create an integrated curricular and co-curricular experience for LLC residents. For example, at Norfolk State University, a public, Historically Black College and University (HBCU), the two divisions have created a working collaboration to enhance student success through offering Learning Communities for first-year students. (Kirby, Fitzgerald, Marable, Eason, Nicholson, & Arroyo, 2018). 

One common practice in Living-Learning Communities is the signature program. An LLC signature program is an intentionally planned event or activity which aims to transform LLC residents’ understanding of an important aspect relevant to their LLC’s theme. Signature programs are often conducted on a quarterly, semester, or annual basis. Sometimes the activity or event topic is consistent and other times it changes. In any case, the intention and potential for developing a new perspective is what is important.

The table below offers a list of LLC signature programs for the various types of LLC themes. After the table, there is a list of LLC resources, including the SAPAA KC LLC working group monthly conference call.

This list was compiled by the NASPA Student Affair Partnering with Academic Affairs LLC Working Group Co-Chairs, Angel Eason & Jaqui Thomas. Angel Eason is the Learning Communities Specialist at Norfolk State University. Angel provides strategic leadership and planning in the expansion of the Learning Communities program. Prior to serving in this role, Angel served as a Residence Hall Director and assisted with the Living Learning Communities within her assigned residence hall community. Angel has been a part of the working group for a year.

Jaqui served as the Assistant Director for Engagement in the Department of Residential Life at the University of California, Riverside for two years (2017-2019). In that role, she was responsible for the development of 10 LLCs. During this time, she assisted in maintaining existing signature programs for the LLCs that had them and developed signature programs for those that did not. Jaqui has been a part of the working group for a year.

 

Living Learning Community Theme

Signature Program

Engineering Majors

Showcase of tangible projects with engineering faculty as the judges

Engineering Majors

Program about the physics of sex.

Honors Students

Museum trip with the Faculty-in-Residence

Social Science, Humanities, and Arts Majors

Discussion of the history of a mural on campus or local museum

Pre-Business Majors

Networking dinner with faculty and alumni

Psychology Majors

Participation in the Morning of Hope Walk in their local area in support of raising awareness about and provide support for those impacted by depression and suicide

Math and Science Majors

Residents visited a blood bank to learn about career pathways of the individuals at the blood bank. Residents also had the opportunity to donate blood.

African American Culture

Black history city tour with a professor of African American studies.

Chicanx/ Latinx Culture

Chicano Park Day Festival (Chicano Park is a historical landmark that is significant to the Chicanx/ Latinx community in San Diego, California)

Chicanx/ Latinx Culture

Cesar Chavez 5k

LGBTQ+ Culture

Discussion on the History of Pride followed by making signs for and walking in a local Pride Parade

Collaboration: African American Culture and Chicanx/ Latinx Culture 

Program and discussion about the experiences of Afro-Latinx individuals and how they are accepted or not accepted in either community

 

References

Inkelas, K., Jessup-Anger, J., Benjamin, M., & Wawrzynski, M. (2018). Living-Learning Communities That Work: A Research-Based Model for Design, Delivery, and Assessment. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Kirby, M. D., Fitzgerald, F. M., Marable, R. , Eason, A. L., Nicholson, S. and Arroyo, A. T. (2019), Student Learning Communities: An Avenue to Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Partnerships at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Student Services, 2019: 11-21.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics, 2017 (NCES 2018-070), Chapter 2. Retrieved from: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=84

Additional Resources

  • The NASPA SAPAA LLC Working Group Monthly Meetings: Call in to join the discussion about LLC best practices with other LLC professionals around the nation. 
  • The Learning Communities Association: The Learning Communities Association is committed to advancing college student learning, success, and development through networking, advocacy, research, and professional development within learning communities theory and practice.
  • The National Resource Center for Learning Communities: With a sustained record of educational reform, the Washington Center, a public service center at The Evergreen State College, is a national resource to two‐ and four‐year higher education institutions intent on creating equitable learning opportunities for all students through the strategic use of learning communities and other evidence-based practices.

http://wacenter.evergreen.edu/learning-communities