UNCG is increasing its offerings. It will offer living-learning communities and non-residential learning communities for nearly half of its first-year student population next fall. Research has shown a correlation between such communities and enhanced academic success and retention.
Campus Weekly asked Laura Pipe, director of learning communities in Undergraduate Studies, to share details.
The status of communities created this year In fall 2011, the Office of Learning Communities (OLC) supported the creation of six Living-Learning and non-residential Learning Communities. With the support of the chancellor and provost, we will be continuing all six communities into fall 2012. We will be transitioning the Exploratory Studies Pre-Health Living-Learning Community into a much larger Exploratory Studies Learning Community program open to any undecided/exploring students interested in exploring all the majors available at the university. Additionally, several of the communities were able to offer their students spring LC options (Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Exploratory Studies Pre-Health, UNCGTeach, Rites of Passage); this has allowed many of the students to continue their experience.
Results so far We are still working through assessment data for the student experience, but preliminary review of our qualitative data is very positive. The students seemed to have really enjoyed working closely with faculty and staff, while transitioning to campus. We hope to have data available on student performance in the next few months.
What’s new for 2012-13 The OLC is thrilled to offer several new communities for fall 2012 in addition to the communities offered last fall. Several faculty and staff members from across campus have been working diligently to develop innovative and engaging opportunities for our newest Spartans. Including the Residential Colleges, UNCG will be able to offer Living-Learning Communities and non-residential Learning Communities for roughly 45-50 percent of our first-year student population next fall. This is rather remarkable growth in such a short time frame, and the support of academic departments and offices from across campus has been essential in securing these opportunities for our students.
The names of new ones and their focus The largest addition is the transition of five Special Interest Communities, sponsored by the Office of Housing and Residence Life, into Living-Learning Communities. These communities were diverse and vibrant as Special Interest options, and the OLC is partnering with HRL, OLSL and faculty members to expand the curricular reach of these great programs:
- Make a Difference House, in Moore-Strong, emphasis on service- learning, volunteerism, and personal responsibility
- Spartan Wellness, in Weil/Winfield, emphasis on personal wellness (female only)
- Mosaic, in Phillips/Hawkins, emphasis on social justice, multiculturalism and global citizenship
- LEAD (Leaders Emerging And Developing) in Cone, emphasis on organizational development, ethics and global leadership.
- FYE (First Year Experience) in Reynolds, for first-year students, fostering a close-knit community
A new one with science and technology focus? Faculty from Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics, along with staff members from around the university, have developed a wonderful community to support students majoring (or interested in) the science and technology fields. AToMS: Achieving Together in Mathematics and Science provides students with the opportunity to study, explore and engage science and technology disciplines with extensive mentoring support from faculty and peers. This community will offer a living-learning community option in Reynolds Hall, but will also have a non-residential community ideal for commuting students.
Languages? The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, with partners across campus, has developed a community to support students enrolling in language courses at UNCG. The students will not only live together in Phillips/Hawkins, but will have mentors who are native speakers in the languages that are represented in the community (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish). This community will explore the languages, cultures and global themes represented in this rich and diverse group.
And for students who are truly undecided? As mentioned above, we will be expanding the Exploratory Studies Communities available to students. This is through a partnership with faculty members, Career Services Center, and the Students First Office. We will be offering students the opportunity to “try on” potential majors within six disciplinary tracks – really starting with the essential question asked of undecided/exploring students, “What courses and activities did you enjoy in high school?” Students will be able to enroll in tracks in the Humanities, the Social Sciences, the Life Sciences, Business and Health/Wellness areas. These tracks, partnered with communities being offered in education (UNCG Teach), science and technology (AToMS), and the languages and cultures (UNCG Global Village), will really provide our undecided/exploring population with a wealth of opportunities to “explore” all that UNCG has to offer.
For more information, visit http://learningcommunities.uncg.edu