PHASE TWO REPORT
TASK FORCE ON LEARNING COMMUNITIES
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
The Task Force on Learning Communities at the University of Iowa was established by the Executive
Committee of the Student Success Team in spring 2007. Pat Folsom, Assistant Provost for Enrollment
Services, chairs the committee. Members include:
Julie Brasefield, Resident Assistant, University Housing
JoAnn Castagna, Assistant to the Dean for Special Projects, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences;
Jane Dorman, Director of Admissions and First-Year Experience, College of Engineering;
Kathleen Fitzgerald, University Housing;
Professor David Gier, School of Music, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences;
Professor Steven Hitlin, Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences;
Nancy Humbles, Director, Center for Diversity and Enrichment;
Paula Kerezsi, Senior Associate Director, Academic Advising Center;
Lindsay McConnell; student member; and
Heather Stalling, Manager Residence Life – Academic Initiatives (member beginning June 18).
Ms. Carol Lammer, staff member in the Provost’s Office, provides staff support for the committee.
We would like to thank Elizabeth Whitt for sharing recent research on student learning, engagement
and success with us; Von Stange for sharing his thoughts on living-learning communities and their
scalability; and John Nelson, members of the CLAS Educational Policy Committee, and members of
the Rhetoric Department for their discussions with us on various drafts of this proposal. Our report
and its recommendations are stronger as result of their expertise, insights and comments.
* * * *
The task force has been given the following charge, to be delivered in two reports:
To identify successful practices in learning community design and operations;
To describe elements specific to the University of Iowa environment that shape the possibilities
for learning communities; and
To recommend a coherent, scalable learning communities program for the University of Iowa.
In the “Phase One Report,” we addressed the first two components of the charge and:
Developed a usable definition of “learning community” and a taxonomy of learning communities;
Collected and summarized descriptions of proven practices in learning community design and
operations, along with available evidence of the practices’ effectiveness;
Researched models for the assessment of the outcomes associated with learning communities and
summarized our findings; and
Undertook a scan of the internal environmental of the University of Iowa identifying key features
worthy of consideration in the design and operations of learning communities.
We delivered the “Phase One Report” to the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education on July
30, 2007; a corrected version of the Phase One Reports accompanies this Phase Two Report and will
be posted to the Task Force Share Point site.
In this “Phase Two Report” we address the third component of the charge. In the pages that follow,
we recommend a coherent, scalable Learning Communities Program for the University of Iowa. We
offer a high-level description of the proposed Learning Communities Program including its design,
goals, learning outcomes by specific type of community, assessment, governance and resources. We
also address potential implementation challenges.
In our “Phase Two” work we built upon the external and internal research we conducted for the Phase
One Report. Two members of the committee, David Gier and Heather Stalling, attended a total of
three conferences on learning communities, two specifically focused on living-learning communities
and one inclusive of all types of learning communities. Gier and Stalling shared information from the
conferences with the Committee; this information confirmed our Phase One research and findings and
provided direction for our Phase Two work. Elizabeth Whitt, Director, Student Success Initiatives,
addressed the Committee, providing both a national and institutional level research-based context for
the work of the committee. Committee members also received and examined the 2007 National
Survey of Student Engagement annual report: “Experiences That Matter: Enhancing Student Learning
and Success: Annual Report 2007.” We met with Von Stange, Director of University Housing, to
discuss scalability possibilities for living-learning communities within the current University Housing
structure. We sought information on best practices and suggestions for improving living-learning
communities by inserting questions from the Task Force into a learning community survey conducted
by University Housing (see Appendix B). We also sought feedback on the Phase One Report and draft
learning communities program design proposals for this report from the CLAS Educational Policy
Committee, the Department of Rhetoric, and the University Honors Program Director, John Nelson.
The report includes the following sections:
a background discussion that provides the context for the Learning Community Program
our working assumptions and proposed program goals;
a high-level description for a proposed learning community program;
a listing of proposed learning community outcomes and some ideas for assessment;
a proposal for a governance model;
an outline of the resources needed to implement the learning community program as it is
a discussion of scalability;
a discussion of implementation issues;
a brief general summary; and
The Committee addressed four questions in creating our Learning Communities Program proposal:
What are our goals for a learning community program at the University?
How should the communities be designed or configured in order to achieve these goals?
How will we know that the learning communities achieve their stated goals?
What governance structures and resources are necessary to successfully implement and sustain the
A number of factors informed our discussions and decisions as we sought answers for these questions.
Of particular importance was information we gained on student learning and success from Elizabeth
Whitt’s presentation to the Task Force, our reading and discussion of the 2007 National Survey of
Student Engagement (NSSE) report, our research into successful established learning communities
programs at institutions similar to the University of Iowa, and our examination of the current UI
The research summary presented by Whitt about what matters to student success informed and focused
our work as we developed our Learning Communities Program, particularly the following findings:
The “greatest impact” on student success “appears to stem from students’ total level of campus
engagement, particularly when academic, interpersonal, and extracurricular involvements are
mutually reinforcing…” (Whitt cites Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p. 647)
The need to incorporate what students do—the “time and energy devoted to educationally
purposeful activities”— is integral to any program focused on student success. (Whitt, slide 7)
Institutions need to “induce students” to engage in these educationally purposeful activities,
designing “academic, interpersonal, and extracurricular offerings to encourage student
engagement.” (Whitt cites Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p. 647)
Successful educational programs have an “unshakeable focus on student learning” (Whitt, slide
11), provide a “caring, supportive community, promote “student ownership,” include “student and
academic affairs collaboration,” and have “supportive educators” everywhere. (Whitt, slide 15)
RISE Report data that demonstrate the positive effects on UI students who do research with
faculty, students who participate in living-learning communities, students who have experiences
tutoring another student, and students who have opportunities to serve as a peer educator. (Whitt
cites RISE study, slides 23-42)
Our work also was strongly influenced by the 2007 NSSE report, especially its data on linked-courses
learning communities and George Kuh’s comments in the director’s message, “If We Could Do One
Thing…:” Kuh reports that “there is growing evidence that—when done well—a handful of selected
programs and activities appear to engage participants at levels that boost their performance across a
variety of educational activities and desired outcomes such as persistence. (Annual Report, 2007, p.7)
Kuh offers a list of education practices that are unusually effective including:
activities that “demand students devote considerable amounts of time and effort to purposeful
activities in which “students will experience diversity through contact with people who are
different than themselves,”
“opportunities for students to see how what they are learning works in different settings, on and
activities that put students in circumstances that essentially demand they interact with faculty and
peers about substantive matters.”
typically, giving students frequent feedback in these activities. (Kuh, NSSE, pp. 7-8)
Kuh, citing the 2007 Association of American Colleges and Universities 2007 report, College
Learning for a New Global Century, characterizes these education practices as “high impact”
activities, and concludes:
So, today when I am asked, “What one thing can we do to enhance student engagement and
increase student success?” I have an answer. I say make it possible for every student to
participate in at least two high impact activities during their undergraduate program, one in the
first year, and one later related to their major field. The obvious choices for the first year are
first-year seminars, learning communities, and service learning. [Emphasis added](p.8)
Like Whitt, Kuh notes that “educationally effective institutions…create incentives to induce
purposeful behavior” through participation in high impact activities and recommends that institutions
“scale them up so that enough opportunities are available across all of them so that every student has a
real chance to participate.” (Kuh, NSSE, p.9)
Finally, in addressing the question of learning community design we also re-visited the designs of the
successful established programs we researched for the Phase One report and examined these programs
how their designs meshed with the culture of their respective institutions;
governance structures; and
staffing and resources. (See Appendix C)
We also reviewed our internal scan of the University of Iowa, as described in the Phase One report.
We examined the key features worthy of consideration for learning communities as well as the most
significant aspects of the University climate and culture. As a result of this review, we made the
decision to build our Learning Communities Program on successful existing programs. This decision
also provided focus for our work. The “Message” project began during the work of this task force; the
project has informed our work as well.
II. Working Assumptions and Learning Communities Program Goals
The research findings outlined in Section I informed the following set of working assumptions we
used in developing the design for the learning community program.
The goal of every entering student is to graduate from the University.
To meet that goal, students must make a successful transition to college and persist to graduation.
What students do in college—the types of activities they engage in—is important to their learning,
their success and their persistence to graduation.
The University needs to create learning environments that ease students’ transition to college and
facilitate student learning, engagement and persistence to graduation, such as the types of high
impact activities described by George Kuh in the 2007 NSSE report.
The Learning Communities Program will, through its design, goals and outcomes be such a high
impact learning environment.
The Learning Communities Program will, through its design, goals and effects exemplify the
To this end, the overall goal of our Learning Community Program is to create supportive communities
in which “academic, interpersonal, and extracurricular involvements are mutually reinforcing”
(Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p. 647) and that reinforce the University “message.” We aim to create
communities that can, when fully implemented, serve up to 70% of an entering first-year cohort class
of 4,000 - 4300 students.
Programmatic goals of the Learning Community Program at the University of Iowa are to:
1) ease students’ transition to college through small, focused communities that facilitate
students’ social and academic integration into the larger collegiate community;
2) increase student engagement in educationally purposeful curricular and co-curricular
3) increase student-to-student and faculty-to-student interaction on educationally purposeful
4) communicate to students “the message”—UI expectations;
5) help students build the foundational academic skills and acquire the habits and behaviors
necessary to succeed at the college level;
6) introduce students to campus resources that can support them;
7) promote the development of collaborative learning and teamwork skills;
8) increase student interaction with faculty and faculty interaction with students through both
formal and informal venues;
9) help students make cross disciplinary connections; and
10) increase opportunities for the development of peer leadership;
III. Learning Communities Program Design
III A. Structure
We recommend that the University of Iowa Learning Communities Program be composed of two
distinct types of learning communities that share a set of required components. The two types of
Learning Communities we propose are:
Linked-Courses Learning Communities: programs that involve at least two linked or
clustered courses in which a distinct cohort of students enroll during a particular semester.
The courses may be linked thematically, or by their relevance to a particular major, or as
components of general education program, or in some other way. (Phase One Report p. 3)
Living-Learning Communities: “programs that involve undergraduate students who live
together in a discrete portion of a residence hall (or the entire hall) and participate in
academic and/or extracurricular programming designed especially for them” (National Study
of Living-Learning Programs, Section I, Introduction).
Our recommendation is consistent with the definition for University of Iowa learning communities
presented in the Phase One Report:
Learning communities are programs intentionally designed to foster shared learning
experiences for defined groups of students. Learning communities foster meaningful
institutional engagement and student success and may include living-learning programs,
linked courses programs or combinations of these experiences.
The inclusion of two types of learning communities in the program provides multiple options for
students, increases the potential to scale up participation by first-year students, offers the flexibility to
encourage wide participation by faculty and staff in the Learning Communities Program, and allows
the University to build on successful existing programs. The required shared components (see below)
will contribute to a coherent learning communities program, as does the centralized governance
structure described later in this report.
This recommendation recognizes and builds on the success of three existing University programs: UI
Learning Communities, Courses in Common and CLAS First-Year Seminars. We attempt to preserve
the strengths of these programs, but recommend an intentional restructuring to support our goal of
creating “supportive communities” in which “academic, interpersonal, and extracurricular
involvements are mutually reinforcing.”(Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p.647) Designs for the linked-
courses communities, living-learning communities and the set of shared required components follow.
III B. Learning Community Program Shared Common Requirements
The shared required components of UI Linked-Courses Learning Communities and Living-Learning
a commitment to the program goals outlined in Section II;
multiple opportunities for formal and informal interaction between faculty and students;
use of student peers as mentors, models, and/or assistants in instruction;
inside and outside of class activities that provide academic and social integration;
opportunities for students to make interdisciplinary connections; and
support for the University’s “message.”
Faculty – Student Interaction
The UI Learning Community Program will “put students in circumstances that essentially demand
they interact with faculty…about substantive matters.” (Kuh, NSSE p.7) Increased interaction will
benefit both students and faculty. Current classroom opportunities for this kind of substantive
interaction generally are limited to some Honors Program courses and sections and First-Year
Seminars. Additional opportunities for faculty-student interaction also occur through an “instructor
visit” assignment in The College Transition course and recent initiatives by Housing such as informal
academic advising and mentoring, and one-on-one faculty interactions. These activities been received
very positively by students. The Learning Communities program offers the opportunity to increase
these positive interactions.
In her presentation, Whitt cited findings about UI students in the RISE report that indicate that doing
research with a faculty member has a substantial impact on various measures of student success. We
do not envision first-year students doing research with faculty through the Learning Community
program but we can offer increased, substantive interactions between students and faculty that could
lead students to interact more closely with faculty as they progress through the University. The
structure and delivery for increased faculty-student interaction will vary by the type of community (see
specific learning community types), but increased interaction is a required component of the program
regardless of the type of community.
Faculty members, many of whom currently have few opportunities for one-to-one or even small group
interactions with entering students, will gain a greater understanding of our students from these
interactions. Virtually all of the established programs we researched include a faculty development
component for both linked-courses and living-learning communities and we strongly recommend such
a program be developed for the UI Learning Communities program. A discussion of the resources
needed to compensate faculty for their participation and for a faculty development program are
outlined in the “Resources” section of this report.
There are substantial reasons to include the use of student peers as a required component of our
learning communities. Virtually all of the successful programs we researched utilize student peers;
these programs attributed much of their programs’ success to the student peers, whether those peers
had full responsibility for teaching a seminar, assisted with a seminar, or did programming in the
living-learning communities. (Phase One Report p. 10) Learning community data from the 2007
NSSE report indicate that students in linked-courses learning communities that included peer advisors
reported a more “supportive environment.” Inclusion of peer advisors also was linked to “greater gains
in vocational skill development and an enriched social life.” (NSSE p. 14). A chart depicting these
effects can be viewed at
Students who serve as peer role models, advisors or instructors benefit from their experience as well.
The RISE report indicates that there is a “positive association with cumulative gpa and
personal/interpersonal growth” for students who tutor or teach another student” (Whitt, slide 25) and
that serving as peer educators or who tutor other students inhibits binge drinking. (Whitt, slide 40)
Representatives from the established programs we researched reported that students mentored by peer
leaders want to become peer leaders and those students who serve as peer leaders often maintain these
positions for several years or through graduation. Making substantial use of peer leaders in our
Learning Communities Program is a win-win situation. We provide more opportunities for the type of
engagement that has a proven positive impact on student success at the University while
simultaneously modeling positive campus engagement for first-year students.
The committee envisions that student peers will help first-year students make academic and social
connections by providing information about University resources and college level academic
expectations, organizing study groups, modeling good student practices, and taking students to
University lectures or events relevant to their respective learning community theme. We do not
envision that student peers will help students make intellectual interdisciplinary connections; making
these connections is the role of faculty within the learning community program. The structure and
delivery of student peer activities will vary by type of learning community, but substantial use of
student peers is a required component of learning communities regardless of their type.
When the learning communities program is fully implemented, the Committee anticipates that there
may be 100 or more student peers in the program. The successful established programs we researched
emphasized that student peers need to be supported by an extensive training and development
program. Many institutions require new student peers to enroll in a peer training class where they
learn about University resources, are trained in group facilitation techniques and learn about student
development. Typically, potential peers enroll in this course the semester before they become active
peer advisors, mentors or teachers. We strongly recommend using this training model for the
University of Iowa Learning Communities Program. Peers also need oversight and leadership
development once they are working directly with students. Resources necessary to implement a peer
training and development program as well as possible compensation practices for peers are outlined in
the “Resources” section of this report.
Academic and Social Integration Activities
The University of Iowa Learning Communities program should foster an environment in which
students feel they are part of a community of learners, a community in which social enjoyment and
academic interests are complementary. The committee believes, therefore, that it is essential for
learning communities to include outside-of-class activities that integrate the academic and social
aspects of students’ lives. These activities could be attached to the faculty-taught seminars, peer-led
seminars or programming in the living-learning communities. Examples of activities include field trips
with faculty to local museums, dinners with faculty, team building courses, service learning
opportunities, outreach to high school students, lectures and guest performances and learning new life
skills. The committee believes that all personnel associated with specific learning community types
(faculty, staff and student peers) are responsible for the intentional programming of such activities.
The structure and delivery of these activities will vary by type of learning community; however,
activities that provide social and academic integration are a required component of learning
communities regardless of their type.
Opportunities for Making Cross-Disciplinary Connections
In both the Linked-Courses Learning Communities and in the Living-Learning Communities, students
will have opportunities intentionally structured to help them see cross-disciplinary connections. In
some cases, like the faculty-led seminars attached to the Linked-Courses Learning Communities, these
opportunities will come as explicit discussions and activities. In other cases, we believe that students
will make cross-disciplinary connections in out-of-class activities or in casual conversations with
faculty. There will be program opportunities in the Living-Learning Communities that also will help
to make cross-disciplinary connections visible to students. The value of intentionally structured
opportunities for curricular integration through learning communities is described in the 2007 NSSE
Report (p.14) as well as later in this report (see Faculty-Taught Seminar p. 10).
The University of Iowa “Message”
The learning communities should exemplify the University’s message; and support students’ adoption
and incorporation of the components of the message. This is an ideal time and place for the
University’s message to be presented to students, and an ideal opportunity for students to not only
learn the message but to understand it and begin to make it their own.
III C. Linked-Courses Communities
The Linked-Courses Learning Communities model we propose combines elements of the existing
Courses in Common and First-Year Seminar programs and adds a student peer component. The
restructuring creates a more integrated experience (more faculty-student, student-student, student-
peers and student-cross curricular connections) for students than is currently provided by Courses in
Common and First-Year Seminars as stand-alone programs. (See the Phase One Report for a full
discussion regarding levels of integration in learning communities.)
Each Linked-Courses Learning Community will consist of a small group of students who enroll as a
2-3 academic courses (6-10 semester hours)
A faculty- taught seminar designed to help students make intellectual/curricular connections
across the linked courses (1 semester hour)
A student peer-led seminar designed to provide social and academic integration to the
University (1 semester hour)
Examples of Linked-Courses Learning Communities
Example 1 Example 2 Example 3
Introduction to American Politics 3 s.h. Intro to Environmental Calculus for the Biological
Statistics & Society 3 s.h. Science 4 s.h. Sciences 4 s.h.
Peer-led Seminar 1 s.h. Anthropology & Contemporary Principles of Chemistry 4 s.h.
Faculty Seminar 1 s.h World Problems 3 s.h. Peer-led Seminar 1 s.h.
Peer-led Seminar 1 s.h. Faculty Seminar 1 s.h.
Faculty Seminar 1 s.h.
8 s.h. 10 s.h.
Linked-Courses Learning Communities Design Guidelines and Discussion
Linked Academic Courses
This design is built on the Courses in Common program in which different options have different
academic focuses that appeal to different students. The first example above uses two commonly taken
General Education Program courses, so has a broad general appeal to entering first-year students. The
second option also has broad appeal but would be a good choice for a first-year Environmental
Sciences major. The third example offers a good option for students with health sciences interests as
well as declared Biology majors. We envision that all the colleges and units that currently participate
in Courses in Common—CLAS, Engineering, Nursing and Honors—would continue to do so under
the new Linked-Courses Community design. The Committee also recommends creating a process by
which faculty will be able to work with the Learning Communities Program administration to suggest
new linked-courses options (see Governance section) or to design modifications to the linked-courses
design outlined above.
Student Cohorts and Course Enrollments
Student cohorts should be small, ideally 19-22 students. The student cohort can be anchored by a
small-section course that is one of the linked courses, for example, Rhetoric, or by the faculty and
We have found somewhat mixed information on the value of having cohort exclusive Linked-Courses
Learning Community enrollment in discussion sections of lecture/discussion courses or small-section
classes like Rhetoric. Our review of best practices at peer institutions found that exclusive cohort
enrollment in discussion sections and smaller classes is standard practice. In these cases, the learning
community directors negotiate differential discussion sizes to accommodate learning communities’
cohorts. On the other hand, the 2007 NSSE report cites preliminary evidence that learning community
courses reserved for program participants can have a negative impact on measures of student
engagement. (NSSE, 2007, p. 15) The report suggests that learning community personnel should
“design structures and other program features that will maximize the chances that the LC experience
will have the desired effect,” and notes that “reserving classes only for students in the LC may not
always have the desired effects.” (NSSE, 2007, p.14) However, it is not clear in this report whether
the reserved courses were stand-alone classes or discussion sections attached to large lectures.
Currently Courses in Common discussion and Rhetoric sections may include students who are not part
of the cohort; some instructors have indicated that this arrangement has had a negative effect on
classroom discourse and management, but the number of these reported instances is small.
The Committee did not reach a consensus recommendation on this issue and we encourage the
implementation team to explore cohort exclusive enrollment in discussion sections and Rhetoric
further, perhaps by piloting this model for some of the learning communities and assessing the
effectiveness of two models through the University’s participation in NSSE. We recognize that cohort
exclusive enrollment has the potential to drive up the size of non-learning community discussion
sections and that these section size differentials have an impact on teaching assistant allocations. We
see this as a challenge for the implementation team, but given our current information, we would not
recommend that implementation of the Learning Communities Program be held up in order to achieve
cohort exclusive enrollments in the smaller classes/discussion sections.
Faculty-taught courses that provide curricular integration among the linked courses were common
among the best practices at peer institutions (see Phase One Report appendices). And the 2007 NSSE
report indicates that 64% of linked courses communities “included a course or discussion group
designed to help integrate [student] learning across the LC courses.” (p. 14) The most recent NSSE
(2007) rReport (2007) also indicates that integrative courses like this are effective for student
engagement and learning. The 2007 NSSE survey included questions on linked-courses learning
communities in which students take two or more courses together. Results indicate that:
Students in LC programs that integrated materials across courses—either by discussion group
or class assignments—had higher scores on all five NSSE student engagement benchmarks.
(NSSE p. 14)
The NSSE benchmarks are: academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty
interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environments. Additionally:
When the LC included discussion groups and class assignments that frequently integrated
material from LC classes, students reported gaining more…. frequently used deep approaches
to learning, and reported an enriched social life. (NSSE, p.14)
Because of this positive NSSE data, we propose modifying the existing First-Year Seminar program in
two ways. First, we propose linking these faculty-taught seminars to a Linked-Courses Learning
Community (see examples above). Second, while the content of the seminar will continue to focus on
a topic of interest to the faculty instructor, the topic will be linked thematically to the other linked
courses and will provide curricular and intellectual integration among the courses. For example, in a
Linked-Courses Learning Community composed of a section of Introduction to American Politics and
a section of Statistics and Society, a faculty seminar on the Iowa caucuses (like the one offered in Fall
2007) would enable students to make many connections across the courses they are taking together.
CLAS Educational Policy Committee members responded positively to this component of the draft
proposal as did some members of the Rhetoric department. We anticipate there will be substantial
challenges to implementing this component of the Linked-Courses Communities design, primarily the
recruitment and retention of a sufficient number of faculty members, but we think the benefits will
outweigh the challenges.
Student Peer-Led Seminar
Each Linked-Courses Learning Community will include a one-semester hour peer-led seminar
designed to help students make social and academic connections. The seminar will be graded S/U.
Topics and activities might include, but would not be limited to, teaching students about University
resources, creating study groups using Supplemental Instruction techniques, teaching students about
college level academic expectations, taking students to campus-sponsored events relevant to the linked
courses curricula, and scheduling social events (e.g. pizza party, dinner with the integrative seminar
faculty member). The Committee does not envision peer instructors providing intellectual integration;
the faculty seminars are meant to serve that function. Rather, the peer instructors, serving as role
models, will provide positive academic and social acculturation for first-year students.
Again, the 2007 NSSE report offers good reasons to include peers as a component in linked courses
First-year students in LCs with undergraduate peer advisors reported more supportive campus
Assigning an undergraduate peer advisor to the LC instructional team was linked to greater
gains in vocational skill development and an enriched social life. (NSSE p. 14)
The peer-led seminars will be supervised by designated personnel in the Learning Communities
Program, who will provide training for the peer instructors and oversight during the session in which
they teach the seminar.
Linked-Courses Design Modifications and Design Alternatives
While Committee members expect that the general design, as outlined above, will serve as the
standard, we recognize that the structure may not serve a small number of academic units (e.g. Music,
Engineering). We expect that there will be a process by which these academic units can work with
the Learning Communities Program to modify the design for their students. We also expect that all
modified Linked-Courses Communities to incorporate the shared required components.
We initially considered using Rhetoric classes as a venue for providing curricular integration across
the linked courses in the Linked-Courses Communities. Under this scheme, Rhetoric would become
the third linked course and, along with the peer-led seminar, a cohort exclusive class. While most
Rhetoric classes are taught by teaching assistants rather than faculty members, the centrality of the
course to students’ first-year academic experience, the high level of training given to Rhetoric
instructors, and the current thematic approach taken in the Rhetoric curriculum (a focus on
“competence in research and inquiry as well as in analysis and persuasion, especially in the area of
understanding public controversies in their social contexts”), all argue for encouraging a high level of
participation of Rhetoric with the Linked-Courses Learning Communities. If Rhetoric were used as
the integrative course, increased interaction with faculty could be achieved through course
assignments and/or associated outside-of-class activities. The primary road block for using Rhetoric is
the teaching assistant assignment process. We strongly recommend that the implementation team
and/or the Learning Communities Executive Committee continue to explore using Rhetoric as an
alternative approach for providing curricular integration among the linked courses. Rhetoric as an
integrative course has the potential to provide scalability.
Once implemented, we anticipate that the University of Iowa Learning Communities Program will
continue to evolve. For example, if all Linked-Courses Communities eventually have both faculty-
taught and peer-led seminars, the Executive Committee might want to consider combining these
seminars (see the University of Washington’s Learning Communities design in our Phase One
III D. Living-Learning Communities
In Whitt’s summary of RISE data, she indicated that the existing residentially based-learning
communities have a positive impact on student performance. (Whitt, slide 27presentation)) Our
proposal for the living-learning community component of the Learning Community Program aims to
build on this success but add coherence to the current communities by:
creating guidelines for all living-learning communities that meet program goals but allow for
flexibility in program design and operations; and
bringing the communities under the structural umbrella of the University of Iowa Learning
The Committee believes that there should be a considerable emphasis on the “learning” component
within living-learning communities and the guidelines reflect this emphasis. We also recommend that
the number and/or size of living-learning communities be increased (see section on Scalability below).
Specific Guidelines for Living-Learning Communities
All Living-Learning Communities on campus will be part of the Learning Communities
Program, and will participate in periodic reviews, annual assessments, and on-going training
programs provided by the Learning Communities Program. Approval and continuance of
Living-Learning communities will be dependent on approval by the Learning Communities
Each Living-Learning Community will have an academic sponsor, which may be a College, a
department within a College, or a group of departments in a college or across colleges or the
Honors Program. Other campus units may participate as co-sponsors of a Living-Learning
Community, but in every case there must be an academic sponsor.
Each Living-Learning Community will consist of a minimum number of participants. We
tentatively suggest that each community enroll at least 20 students; however, this is a criterion
the implementation committee may wish to explore.
Each Living-Learning Community will include a shared or common academic component.
This might be a common course taken by all members, or supplemental instruction or study
groups, academically relevant co-curricular events and activities or a combination of these.
Each Living-Learning Community will promote student-faculty interactions within the
community. Examples: shared meals, presentations and discussions, field trips.
Each Living-Learning Community will include trained peer students, who will, ideally, live in
the Community. The role of these peers will be crafted to fit the needs of each community,
but each peer will receive training by the Learning Communities Program, that includes group
dynamics and student development issues. The peers will work with the Residence Hall staff
as well as with the Living-Learning Community sponsors.
Each Living-Learning Community will develop learning outcomes specific to the community.
Resources for assessment of these learning outcomes are outlined in Section IV.
The Learning Communities Program will create an application process to ensure that every living-
learning community meets the guidelines outlined above. We strongly suggest that for the purpose of
creating a coherent program, all existing UI learning communities go through this application process
as part of the program’s implementation.
IV. Learning Outcomes & Assessment
Learning outcomes for the two types of learning communities in the University of Iowa Learning
Community Program are listed in Table I below. We drew on program goals in order to develop these
outcomes. Recommended tools for assessing whether students are achieving these outcomes
assessment tools follow below.
Table I: Learning Outcomes
Linked-Courses Learning Communities (LC) Living-Learning Communities (LLC)
As a result of participating in LCs students will: As a result of participation in LLCs students will:
Be aware of University resources Be aware of University resources
available to them available to them
Understand college level study strategies Understand college level study strategies
and skills and skills
Understand how college expectations are Understand how college expectations are
different from high school expectations different from high school expectations
Learn how to form effective study groups Learn how to form effective study groups
Be able to articulate the University’s Be able to articulate the University’s
Actively participate in LC classes (e.g. Actively participate in the LLC’s
ask questions or contribute to class educational and social events (e.g. help
discussions). plan or participate).
Collaborate with other LC students to Collaborate with other students in the
master material by working together LLC to master material by working
outside of class on course assignments together outside of class on course
and by attending peer-led study groups. assignments and by attending peer-led
Discuss ideas from readings or linked study groups.
classes with other LC students. Discuss ideas from readings or classes
Establish social connections with other with other LLC students.
students in the LC by participating in Establish social connections with other
outside-of-class events and activities. students in the LLC by participating in
Apply college-level study strategies and LLC social activities and events.
skills (e.g. time management, note taking) Apply college-level study strategies and
to their academic coursework. skills (e.g. time management, note taking)
Interact with LC faculty in formal (e.g. to their academic coursework.
office hours) and/or informal venues. Interact with LLC faculty in formal (e.g.
Interact in positive ways with diverse office hours) and/or informal venues.
students. Interact in positive ways with diverse
Use campus resources as appropriate. students.
Demonstrate University’s “message” in Use campus resources as appropriate
through their daily actions. Demonstrate the University’s “message”
through their daily actions.
Good assessment is essential for determining whether the University of Iowa Learning Communities
Program is achieving its stated goals and learning outcomes. Good assessment also is very important
for the growth, improvement and marketing of the program. (See Phase One Report p. 10) We
recommend that the Learning Communities Program be assessed on a regular basis using multiple
modes of assessment that include both statistical studies and qualitative studies. We also recommend
that the assessment of the Learning Communities Program include external assessment instruments as
well as internal instruments.
We recommend that the University participate in two national assessments: the National Study of
Student Engagement (NSSE) and the National Study of Living Learning Programs (NSLLP).
NSSE is a well established national assessment instrument. NSSE produces an annual national report,
and participating institutions receive annual individual reports. The University of Oregon offers an
excellent example of using the NSSE report to examine measures of learning and engagement for
students who participated in learning communities as opposed to non-participants (See Appendix F in
our Phase One Report). As noted earlier in this report, the 2007 NSSE included specific questions on
linked-courses learning communities. The Office of the Provost has already made a commitment to
participate in NSSE for the 2008-2009 academic year and we recommend that the University continue
to participate for the purpose of assessing the Learning Communities Program.
NSLLP is a more recently developed national assessment instrument that surveys living-learning
communities only. NSLLP produces a national report and, like NSSE, provides institutional reports to
participating colleges and universities.
Participation in both national surveys will give us focused feedback on both types of learning
communities in the University Learning Communities Program.
We recommend using multiple internal modes of assessment for the Learning Community Program as
a whole and for its individual components. Minimally, we suggest the following:
Annual statistical analyses on the persistence and performance of learning community
participants as compared to non-participants. IUPUI persistence and performance studies
control for a number of factors and could be used as a model. Iowa State University offers
another possible model. We would be especially interested in a study that could control for
self-selection and participation in more than one type of learning community or other
retention initiative (e.g. The College Transition course).
Assessment of learning outcomes for the component parts of the Learning Communities
Program (living-learning communities, individual living-learning communities and linked-
courses learning communities) as well as the Learning Communities Program as a whole.
Surveys that elicit qualitative feedback from students (including peer student leaders),
faculty and staff regarding their level of satisfaction and suggestions for improvement.
The suggestions we have made for internal assessment will necessitate data collection. It will be
critical for the implementation team to make their data needs known to the MAUI Steering Committee
so that the capability for the specific data needs of the Learning Communities Program is built into the
new student information system.
Resources for Assessment
Having sufficient, sustained resources to do good assessment is as important as the assessment itself.
We recommend that there be trained, dedicated personnel to do the assessment or that the Learning
Communities Program has access to dedicated time from an appropriate unit (e.g. Center for Research
on Undergraduate Education).
The committee took considerable time to consider a governance structure for a scalable, coherent
Learning Communities Program. We examined how other institutions structured the oversight of
similar programs (see Appendix C) and we considered the current ways in which we are delivering
programs as well as our institutional culture. As we worked, we repeatedly returned to the following
governance-related factors commonly identified by the established programs we researched as critical
to their success:
Institutions adapted standard learning community models to fit the intended goals of their
programs as well as the structure and culture of the institution;
Strong, sustained central administration leadership is viewed as essential for achieving the
intentional restructuring and faculty buy-in that are critical for creating successful learning
Extensive and intentionally designed collaborations between academic affairs and student
affairs and governance structures that represent all stakeholders are a mark of successful
Creating criteria for learning communities that meet program goals but allow for
flexibility in program design and operations encourage creativity and enable programs to
grow and change.
We believe our proposed governance structure incorporates these factors. We recommend a
centralized structure for the funding, policy development, approval of new linked-courses or living-
learning communities, peer development and general administrative oversight of the Learning
Communities Program. The administrative structure we propose is highly collaborative, involves both
academic and student affairs, and represents all stakeholders. Within this structure, we recommend
creating processes that encourage grass roots initiatives for new living-learning communities and new
options for linked-courses communities. These processes also should facilitate communication among
its various components. Our governance recommendations are outlined below and visually delineated
in the accompanying organizational chart.
We anticipate that the Learning Communities Program will grow and develop over time to meet the
need of UI students; this was true for all of the established programs we researched. We believe the
structure outlined above incorporates the flexibility to identify the need for and to implement change,
while maintaining the quality and coherence of the Learning Communities Program.
House the Learning Communities Program in the Office of the Provost under the Vice Provost and
Dean of University College.
Housing the Learning Communities Program in the Office of the Provost provides visibility for the
program and signals a serious commitment by the University to this initiative — i.e., the strong
leadership critical for the program’s development and the sustained leadership necessary for its
success. We anticipate that all of the colleges with undergraduate programs and the Honors Program
will participate in at least one type of community within the Learning Communities Program so
situating the program administration within the Office of the Provost also makes good structural sense.
We suggest that general program oversight be provided directly by the Vice Provost or by the Director
for Student Success Initiatives, or by another individual designated by the Vice Provost.
Funding for the Learning Communities Program will flow from the Office of the Provost. Centralized
funding is, we believe, essential for creating an equitable funding model across both types of learning
communities. Survey responses from current residential-based learning community personnel cited
the need for such a model (see Appendix B).
Create an Executive Committee to provide program leadership, oversight and planning.
We recommend that the individual designated within the Office of the Provost to provide general
oversight of the Learning Communities Program plus the individuals with direct responsibilities for
each of the components of the program comprise an executive committee responsible for providing
on-going leadership, planning and supervision of the Learning Communities Program.
As outlined in the governance chart, we propose that these individuals would include:
a director/coordinator for living-learning communities;
a director/coordinator for linked-courses learning communities;
a director/coordinator for peer training and development; and
a faculty member to recruit faculty participation in the program and work with the other
director/coordinators to coordinate the use of faculty in the two types of learning communities.
With the exception of the director/coordinator for peer training and development—which we
recommend be a full-time, dedicated position—we envision that the primary appointments of the
director/coordinators will be in other units or departments, but that a percentage of their appointment
will be dedicated to their role on the Learning Communities Program Executive Committee. Initially,
we recommend that 50% of their appointment be dedicated to their role on the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee, as outlined, represents a collaborative program administration that includes
personnel from both academic and student affairs. We believe a collaborative administrative team is
essential. Both types of learning communities will be drawing from the same pool of faculty and
student resources so it is important that their efforts are well coordinated.
Executive Committee responsibilities are primarily programmatic and administrative and will include:
creating and overseeing policies, procedures and processes regarding the Learning Community
Program (e.g. application process for new living-learning communities or for new linked-
coordinating Learning Community Program faculty and staff training and development;
decision-making regarding funding and staffing resource allocation;
long-term, strategic planning based on assessment data;
coordinating high level programming (e.g. programming that crosses both types of learning
These responsibilities will help create a coherent Learning Communities Program by ensuring, for
example, that the key components are included in all learning communities. The work of this
committee will be carried out with regular consultation from the Advisory Committee.
The administrative personnel necessary to support the work of the Director and the Executive
Committee are addressed in the Resources section of this report.
Create a Learning Communities Advisory Committee
We recommend that a larger committee be created that includes the Director and Executive Committee
plus representatives from the Office of Admissions, University Housing, the Academic Advising
Center, Information Technology Service, the Office of the Registrar, the Honors Program, the
undergraduate colleges, a representative from the living-learning communities advisory committee
(see below) and perhaps marketing, if that is a separate position. The focus of this committee is on
operations and will address issues such as implementing a system for linked-courses registration,
registration procedures when a course is attached to a living-learning community, timeline for
marketing, etc. As the Learning Communities Program implementation team moves forward,
adjustments to the composition of this committee are likely, but the focus should remain on
operations. We anticipate that much of the work of this committee will be done in smaller
Create a Living-Learning Communities Advisory Committee
Living-learning communities are part of the Learning Community Program, but they are situated
within University Housing so also are governed by Residence Hall policies and procedures. In 2007,
University Housing created a new position: Manager, Residence Life for Academic Initiatives. We
recommend that general coordination for living-learning communities within the residence hall
structure be under the management of this position but that an advisory committee be created
comprised of representatives from Residence Life and representation from every academic sponsor.
We recommend that this committee work to bring structural coherence to the living-learning
committees by developing standard policies and procedures for all living-learning communities and
delineating the roles and responsibilities for all living-learning community personnel (RAs, academic
sponsors, peer mentors). We also envision this committee coordinating cross-living-learning
community programs and events.
Dean University College
Director Student Success Initiatives
Learning Communities Program
Director/Coordinator Living Learning Communities
Director/Coordinator Linked-Courses Learning
Director Peer Training and Development
Learning Communities Program
Members of the LCP Executive Committee
Information Technology Services
Colleges and Honors
Academic Advising Center
LLC Advisory Board
Manager, Residence Life for Academic Initiatives
Note: We have inserted Appendix G from the Phase One Report between the Sections on
Resources and Scalability as a point of reference.
Implementation of the Learning Communities Program will require substantial additional and/or
reallocated resources for personnel and operational expenses. We have developed what we believe to
be a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of resources needed to implement a fully scaled program.
Because the Learning Communities Program has been built on existing programs with dedicated
personnel, we imagine that some personnel needs can come from a reallocation of time to the new
Learning Community Program; however, the scale of this program and the extensive collaboration
necessary to operate it will require more personnel time than is currently being dedicated for each of
the existing component programs. Additional funding for the dedicated learning community
personnel time and/or backfill funding must be provided. Personnel resources include:
Faculty buy-in is critical to success of the Learning Community Program and critical
to faculty buy-in are incentives or rewards for program participation.
Though not necessarily a direct personnel cost, faculty incentives may involve
reallocation of teaching assignments and time; therefore we have included them under
personnel as opposed to operations. Incentives from established programs included
course buy-outs, release time, stipends, and travel funding. Other possibilities might
include counting three 1 semester-hour integrative seminars as the equivalent of one
course or counting participation toward the faculty service component. The important
point is that it must fit the culture of this institution and be substantial enough to
recruit faculty to the program and retain them.
Executive Director of the Learning Communities Program (.5 to 1 FTE)
We have allocated a range depending on the extent to which the person is directly
involved in the Learning Community Program oversight.
Director/Coordinator, Living-Learning Communities (.5 FTE)
Director/Coordinator, Linked-Courses Learning Communities (.5 FTE)
Director/Coordinator, Faculty Recruitment and Coordination (.5 FTE)
Director/Coordinator, Peer Training and Development (1 FTE)
Note: With the exception of the position for peer training and development, these
positions may be attached to another position outside of the Learning Communities
Program. These individuals will work very closely with staff in the Residence Halls,
Admissions, Academic Advising Center, and the Colleges who have been given
responsibilities for various aspects of Learning Communities activities.
GA /TA (.25 to .5 FTE) or Professional Staff (.5 FTE)
When fully implemented, we envision 100 or more student peers, the necessary
training plus ongoing development and oversight (observations, crisis management,
etc.) of these students will require personnel beyond the Director/Coordinator.
Program Support personnel (1.5 FTE)
This might be configured as one FTE P&S position at the Program Associate I level to
provide administrative and program support in marketing, coordination,
communication and budget plus a dedicated percent of a merit support position, but
other options could be explored as well.
The established programs we reviewed used various means to reward student peers
including stipends, scholarships and, for living-learning communities, partial to full
room and board.
Internal Assessment (.25 to .5 FTE)
Web Development (.25 to .5 FTE)
Successful established programs market heavily through their web sites and some
programs allow students to select linked-courses options or specific living-learning
community options through their web sites prior to orientation. Initial web site
development needs will be substantial; maintaining the web site will require ongoing
attention as linked-courses options and living-learning communities change and the
program as a whole develops.
Note: Academic sponsors of some living-learning communities currently using Graduate Assistants,
may want to continue to provide such support. Those resources are not included in this resource list.
Operational Resource Needs
Implementation will require additional and reallocated operational resources. Some of these resources
are already allocated for the programs we have used as foundations for our Learning Communities
Program (Courses in Common, First-Year Seminars and UI Learning Communities), but as the new
program is scaled up, existing resources will need to be increased.
General funds for faculty and staff training and professional development activities (e.g. on-
campus workshops, on- and off-campus conferences, lunches, speakers, and opportunities for
faculty teaching the integrative seminars to meet with peer instructors and linked-courses
faculty in their respective themed linked-courses option).
Program funds for each Living-Learning Community. At present, the various sponsors of the
living-learning communities have supplied any funding that has been available for programs
in the communities. We propose that funding flow from the Office of the Provost and
encourage the Executive Committee to develop a standardized formula for funding the Living-
Learning Communities’ activities (perhaps based on size of the community, or perhaps on a
budget submission from each community).
Program funds for any outside-of-class activities associated with the faculty-taught integrative
Program funds for the Peer-Led seminars in the Linked-Courses Learning Communities: The
peer seminars are the locus for academic-social interactions and we expect these seminars to
need some funding for activities. A budget for food or for event tickets will help to ensure the
success of these seminars.
General funds for marketing (outreach brochures and advertising for example);
Requisite funding to participate in the National Study of Living Learning Programs (NSLLP)
The committee recommends dedicated space for the Learning Communities Program, including office
space for dedicated personnel in the program. It will be important, for example, for student peers to be
able to meet individually with the Director/Coordinator as issues arise in their seminar or in the
Residence Halls. Other space resources to consider include:
Meeting space for the various committees
Training space for student peers
Programming space for both types of learning-communities (e.g. study groups, discussions
with faculty, invited lecturers)
SNAPSHOT OF “KEY UI FEATURES” PROGRAMS IN THE INTERNAL ENVIRONMENTAL SCAN
Program Administrative Number of Resources Budget/Funding
IowaLink Academic 36-40 % of AAC Senior $70,784
Advising Center Associate Director
Courses in Academic 1100 fall % of AAC Senior Embedded in AAC
Common Advising Center semester Associate Director funds
% of Program Assistant
College Academic 1100 fall % of AAC Senior Assoc. $143,683
Transition Advising Center semester Director;
% of Program Assistant
Transfer Academic 95-100 % of AAC Senior See College
Transition Advising Center annually Associate Director; Transition
% of Director, Orientation
% of Program Assistant
First Year College of 600? % of Program Associate II $125,000
Seminars Liberal Arts and 1 Faculty per section
Living- See LLC Chart 792 See LLC Chart See LLC Chart
Total Available First-Year Opportunities = 3732
Note: These numbers reflect available opportunities. This does not equal the number of
students served because some students participate in more than one option.
We envision that when fully implemented the Learning Communities Program will be able to
accommodate roughly 3,000 students or 70% of an entering class of 4,300 first-year students.
To reach 70% we recommend increasing the spots available to students in the living-learning
communities from 800 to 1800. Von Stange, Director of University Housing, believes this is
reasonable and feasible in terms of Residence Hall space as well as room and floor configurations.
Currently, the Courses in Common program serves 1100-1200 students through 58 linked-courses
options. In our discussions, we have not focused on scaling this program up in terms of the number of
options or the number of students served; rather we have focused on “scaling up” the structure of the
program so that it provides more academic, social and intellectual integration. This will necessitate an
increase from the roughly 50 faculty members who currently teach First Year Seminars. And it
requires the recruitment, training and development of sufficient student peer instructors to staff one
peer per option.
We purposely have retained The College Transition course as a stand-alone first-year opportunity.
The course might be combined with a living-learning community (one for open majors, for example),
but it will remain available for students who do not elect to participate in a learning community. We
recognize that some students will “double dip” in first-year opportunities (e.g. enrolling in both a
living-learning and a linked-courses learning community), but when totaled, we come close to having
the capability of offering a first-year opportunity to almost all entering first-year students.
Living-Learning Communities 1800 students
Linked-Courses Communities 1200 students
The College Transition 900 - 1100 students
Total 3900 - 4100 students
When the Learning Community Program is fully implemented, we encourage the Office of the Provost
and other appropriate bodies to examine the possibility of requiring all entering first-year students to
participate in one first-year opportunity.
The intentional restructuring we recommend in this report is substantial and crosses institutional
organizational structures. Based on implementation narratives from the established programs we
researched and our internal scan for our Phase One Report, we know implementation will be
challenging. We have identified specific challenges within the various sections of this report; we
outline other major challenges here.
Recruiting and retaining faculty for the program. As we noted in our Phase One Report, this
represents a cultural shift at the University of Iowa and it is a challenge that every one of the
established programs we interviewed identified as an ongoing challenge. Incentives will be
critical to recruit sufficient participation and to retain program participation as well as
The MAUI team needs to incorporate the technology support necessary for the Learning
Community Program in its programming. Examples of support include batch registration
capability for linked-courses and workflow between Admissions and Housing for living-
learning community enrollment. Having these processes in place before “scaling up” is
critical to the success of the program.
Current, long-standing processes and procedures will need to be adjusted (e.g. moving the
deadline for returning students to accept Housing contracts to an earlier date).
As outlined, the Learning Communities Program represents a cultural shift for students as
well. It demands greater engagement for entering first-year students as well as the creation of
a substantial cadre of student peers. We believe there is interest we can build on. In the fall
2007 course evaluation for The College Transition, we asked students if they would be
interested in assisting in a College Transition course in the future; 42% of the students who
completed the course evaluation responded positively to this question.
Marketing is critical. We have not outlined a marketing strategy in our report because such
strategies will need to be developed as part of the implementation of the Learning
Communities Program. We strongly encourage the team to look begin by looking at the web
sites of the established programs we reviewed.
Full implementation of the University of Iowa Learning Communities Program may require phasing in
over time. For example, the implementation team may want to consider a smaller linked-courses pilot
with both faculty and student seminars within some of the current Courses in Common options as a
starting point. We also recommend that the implementation team conduct site visits to one or more of
the established programs we researched and attend the annual learning community conference
sponsored by the Washington Center.
Creating a learning community design and governance structure that reflects the research on “what
matters” in student success and can reasonably be implemented at the University has been a
challenging exercise – something akin to a balancing act. For example, linked-courses communities
with a high level of integration may produce excellent outcomes (e.g. IUPUI), but they also place
greater demands on faculty and staff resources so may not be as scalable. But the process also has
been extremely rewarding; it has been exciting to envision the ways in which our Learning
Communities Program design will positively affect the undergraduate experience.
As we worked, we found we repeatedly returned to the factors identified as critical for success by
established programs (Phase One Report). We believe that we have the strong, sustained central
administration leadership essential for achieving the intentional restructuring and faculty buy-in that
are critical for creating successful learning community programs. And we have created a program that
we believe, if implemented incorporates the other critical factors by:
meeting the intended goals of our program as well as the structure and culture of the
providing for extensive and intentionally designed collaborations between academic affairs
and student affairs and governance structures that represent all stakeholders;
creating criteria for learning communities that meet program goals but allow for flexibility
in program design and operations;
including substantial use of student peers supported by a strong peer training program; and
providing good assessment.
We also believe that we have designed a program which substantially increases faculty-student
interactions as well as student-student interactions on educationally purposeful activities and that we
have created supportive communities in which “academic, interpersonal, and extracurricular
involvements are mutually reinforcing” (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p. 647)) and reinforce the
With the appointment of a Director of Student Success Initiatives and the creation of the Student
Success Team (SST), the University has in place for the first time, a structural means by which to
significantly and substantially improve the undergraduate experience for all UI students. We believe
the Learning Community Program we have designed, in combination with other first-year initiatives
underway, offers the potential for a cultural shift toward a more engaged community of students,
faculty and staff. We are eager to see the new Learning Communities Program implemented.
Appendix A References and Resources
Appendix B Partial Summary of Living-Learning Community Reports for 2006-2007
Appendix C Selected Established Program Governance and Resources Summaries
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
Printed References and Resources
Pascarella, Ernest T., Elizabeth J. Whitt and others, Undergraduate Experiences and Outcomes at
the University of Iowa: Report of Research on Iowa Student Experiences (RISE). Iowa City:
Center for Research on Undergraduate Education, 2006.
Pascarella, Ernest T. and Patrick T. Terenzini, How College Affects Students: A Third Decade of
Research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.
Folsom, Pat, et. Al. (The Learning Community Task Force), Phase One Report of the Task Force
on Learning Communities at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, 2007.
Internet References and Resources
National Survey of Student Engagement. 2007. Experiences That Matter: Enhancing Student
Learning and Success Annual Report 2007,
The CLAS Educational Policy Committee. Interview with Pat Folsom and David Gier. Iowa
City, October 4, 2007.
Faculty of the Department of Rhetoric. Interview with Pat Folsom, Steve Hitlin and Paula Formatted: Indent: Left: 0",
Kerezsi, Iowa City, DateSeptember 27, 2007. First line: 0"
Nelson, John. 2007. Interview with the Learning Community Task Force. Iowa City, November Formatted: Indent: Left: 0",
26, 2007. First line: 0"
Stange, Von. 2007. Interview with the Learning Community Task Force. Iowa City,
November.October 15, 2007
Whitt, Elizabeth. 2007. Interview with the Learning Community Task Force. Iowa City,
September 7, 2007.
Partial Summary of Living-Learning Community Reports for 2006-2007 Academic Year
General Suggestions Best Practices Wish List
Art & Design No Response No Response In the future I think it would be lovely if there was a large picnic
(A&D) where all the students in all of the learning communities could
socialize during the second week of classes and at the end of
the year. I also think it would be helpful to have a series of job
descriptions so that each member of the steering committee for
individual learning communities and new learning communities
has some knowledge of their role in the success of the
community. I also think it is imperative for all students enrolled
in the learning community to also be enrolled in a cohort of
classes together—like the Men in Engineering. In the future I
would love to see a one day training session for new learning
community steering committee where more established learning
community practices were shared.
Citizenship, No Response No Response More coordination with welcome events. The committee would
Leadership & like better access to student information before arriving on
Service (CLS) campus for contact purposes. More interaction with advising
and orientation to ensure that students in the LC are helped to
register for the LC course would be helpful.
Exploration in No Response No Response More coordination with welcome events. The committee would
Computing, like better access to student information before arriving on
Mathematics, and campus for contact purposes. More interaction with advising
Science (ECMS) and orientation to ensure that students in the LC are helped to
register for the LC course would be helpful.
Health Sciences No Response Assessment and Measurement and the Student I encourage University Housing and the Provost’s Office to
(HSLC) Advisory Council are the best practices for this support attempts at collaboration as it makes sense to pool
community. The SAC plans and organizes most of the resources to reach more students. An Advisory Board will
programs for the students living in the community. determine who will be the next sponsor for the HSLC.
Honors (Honors) The Honors Program is the key The Honors Student Staff, made up of under- Students in the Honors Program in general and the Honors
stakeholder for the Honors House, graduates, works more than a hundred hours a week House in particular could benefit from (1) greater involvement
and it regularly reviews and to open the Blank Honors Center to students. This by the Honors Program in selecting, training, and coordinating
revises the activities provided for contributes directly – even primarily – to the social and with Residence Assistants for the Honors House in Daum Hall,
the residents (see item 1). The academic support of students in the Honors House. It even extending to combined program training for Daum RAs
Honors Program reports to the allocates further scores of hours each week to and Honors House Learning Community Coordinators; (2)
Provost and the Senior Associate producing educational events and activities. These developing and programming Honors Clusters for residence
Provost for Undergraduate are advertised to the full Honors population, but they halls in addition to Daum; and (3) more cost-effective
Education, conversing more or typically connect most amply with the hundreds of transportation for large groups of students to enable field trips,
less monthly with the Senior students currently in the Honors House or only a year community ventures, and the like for the Honors House.
General Suggestions Best Practices Wish List
Honors (Honors) Associate Provost about initiatives removed from it.
(continued) for the Honors House.
This also means that the program palette for the
Honors House includes the Arts (theater
performances, art exhibits, museum visits, film
screenings); dinners, receptions, and socials (with
officials, faculty, alumni); scholarly discourses (small-
group discussions with experts, topical lectures by
professors, special readings by writers); Diversity
exercises (celebrations, dances, field trips, films,
meals); Honor Societies; the Iowa City Foreign
Relations Council (luncheons with activists and
dignitaries, courses coordinated with speakers); Mock
Trial coaching and competition; Music Societies;
Talent Shows; Video Games; Volunteering (from one-
time contributions to concerted drives to continuing
commitments), and more.
The Honors Student Staff meets weekly with
Coordinator Christensen to brainstorm and specify
various programs. As programs develop, the Honors
Student Coordinators fill out a Program Planning form
and submit it for comments from Christensen. After a
specific program has been completed, the Student
Learning Community Coordinators write a Program
Evaluation for Christensen. This becomes the basis
for discussing what went well, why, and what needs
improvement (see Appendix C for examples).
Christensen, in turn, leads regular discussions with
Kirby, Nelson, and sometimes the full professional
staff on further possibilities for programming in light of
student responses to recent offerings.
International No Response No Response Continued funding for the two student programmers - $10,000.
Community (ICC) Creation of a lounge or shared space on the ICC
Begin discussions for establishing a course in conjunction with
Re-establish the ICC advisory board consisting of the IP
Associate Dean, interested faculty, former ICC members, and
Hire two returning students for the programmer positions in the
General Suggestions Best Practices Wish List
Iowa Writers No response Foster Exchange of student writing on an ongoing No response
(IWLC) basis—both formally and informally. This give
students the opportunity to workshop their writing with
each other on a weekly or monthly basis.
Use the residence floor layout to provide a unique
atmosphere for continuous exchange of ideas, writing,
and feedback. Students will go so far as to post their
weekly writings on their dormitory door, for feedback
Design a forum for student leadership (a student
government or social committee) under the guidance
of the Residence Assistant. One year: For example,
the social committee chair organized weekly
gatherings in Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop for National
Novel Writing Month. This group commits to writing
3.3 pages per day in hopes of producing a short
novel-length manuscript within a month.
Coordinate and organize joint events with other
If possible, create mentor relationships with previous
graduate of the IWLC
Developed External programming to foster knowledge
of the university and its programs
Developed external programming to foster
knowledge—and take advantage—of the larger Iowa
City intellectual/literary community.
Keep people in writing-related departments across the
University informed about the Writing Learning
Community. In this way, we open opportunities for
programming and support.
For a writer, success is ‘publication’—the sharing of
material in verbal or oral form. Therefore, we look at
our “Language Live” performances (in Dec and
May)—filled with energy, passion, and good writing—
as emblematic of our success. They are well
attended, we have a final PowerPoint slide show of
pictures and memories; students share their
experiences. We also hold writing contests (not last
year but in 2004 and 5—and Mike is holding one this
year), and this engages our students in the process of
General Suggestions Best Practices Wish List
Leadership Continue regular communication 1 semester hour seminar course (Academic University funding across all learning communities, as opposed
Community in between academic liaisons and Leadership Seminar) – builds community and provides to funding for select communities.
Business and residence services – monthly structure for learning community members and
Entrepreneurship meeting with RA and Hall department liaison. University funding to support:
(LCBE) Coordinator. - Paid programmers (living on floor/potentially members of
Service Learning Project – see attached forms LCBE)
Continue regular communication (Project Proposal & Project Verification & Reflection) - Graduate Assistant
with Academic Initiatives Manager
(Heather Stalling) Event Fund (NEW 2007) – see attached form (Event University-wide prioritization of learning communities:
Proposal Form) – LCBE members are invited to - Academic Initiatives Manager (Step 1)
Increase opportunities for submit a proposal for funding and support for learning - University Funding (Needed)
interaction with other learning community-related events. Proposals are reviewed by
community liaisons department liaison and funding is approved or University-wide Learning Community Event Fund
declined. - Offers opportunity for department liaisons to sponsor and pilot
Increase methods for sharing programs/events not allocated in the annual budget
information/best practices/ RA Selection (NEW 2007) – whenever possible hiring - Acts as an incentive bringing fresh, creative ideas to the
evaluation between learning former LCBE learning community member as RA. learning communities – creates NEW best practices
University-wide Assessment – Impact of Learning Communities
• Track learning community students across time at IOWA (and
- Pursuit of Higher Education
- Community Engagement
“How to” Toolkit for Learning Communities – standardized
- Getting Started
- Best Practices
- Sources of Funding
Large scale “Welcome Event” for all learning communities,
hosted by significant UI administrators (President, Provost,
RA and Department Liaison(s) “meeting/lunch” during RA
- Meet and greet
- Identify Goals & Set Expectations
Changes to structure – increase size of LCBE to include
second-year students interested in living on the floor and
serving as mentors
General Suggestions Best Practices Wish List
Men in Program continues to focus on Dedicated, enthusiastic resident assistants who are Have the College provide specific activities for the learning
Engineering (MIE) creating a greater sense of also engineering students community providing additional experiences for the residents of
camaraderie between new Men in Engineering. For example, in addition to the faculty
engineering students and other A sense of excitement generated in prospective dinners which have proven very successful, I would like to see
members of the college (older students about the value of living in this community the College host specific career activities (workshops, tours,
students, faculty, and staff). etc.) for residents of Men in Engineering.
Having returning students in the community to serve
as role models, mentors I would like to see the community take on community service
activities, and in particular, explore the idea of becoming
Involvement by the College through faculty dinners, involved with the Big Brother/Big Sister Program in Johnson
workshops, events, and the liaison County.
Cooperation with the Housing staff Retention of the residents of Men in Engineering at a higher
level than non-learning community participants
Being able to view the community as one entirety
instead of four separate communities, with Higher GPAs for Men in Engineering residents than that of
overlapping activities, shared lounge space, etc. students not in learning communities
Multicultural The participation of the community No response No response
Studies and has been less than expected (only
Leadership (MSL) second year). There was a lack of
participation in the orientation or
programming opportunities. MSL
will continue to offer programming
that is more student driven.
Performing Arts Request that all students be Use of Facebook on-line community has been No Response
(PALC) centrally located on one floor. PA instrumental in connecting with students.
is very happy with the amount of
students returning to the
Women in Communication has increased WISE Orientation Protocol and Scavenger Hunt Increasing public visibility and recognition for the excellent work
Science & between academic/student being done in LC’s.
Engineering services, but there still needs to be The WISE First-year Outreach Program
(WISE) better development of protocols Rewarding programs that support the UI Strategic Plan in some
between academic sponsors and The WISE LC Rights and Responsibilities protocol measurable way.
Housing. Retention could be
smoother for second and third The WISE Event Request Form Allowing sponsors to have access to a key to get in and out of
year students for LLC’s. A the dorm that houses their LC.
standard set of questions to The Learning Community Initial Surveys and the End
assess certain factors across all of Semester, End of Year Surveys Providing sponsors access to loading and unloading spaces
learning communities would be adjacent to their residence halls and often used programming
helpful. This would also allow for spaces such as the Currier MPR to make it easier to move food
internal comparisons between and supplies in and out of the dorm.
General Suggestions Best Practices Wish List
Women in LLCs. Maintaining LLC protocols
Science & that still allow for flexibility and Re-keying floor keys for LC residents who live in communities
Engineering individual characteristics to show that span more than one floor to allow all residents to access
(WISE) through. lounges in the LC regardless of which floor they live on.
Others are not so simple:
Assessing an additional fee to each LC resident (with
scholarship options available) to be used to provide a small
monthly stipend to LC RA’s to offset their extra responsibilities
and to create a fund to be used by the sponsoring unit for
Developing a mechanism to equalize resources from LC to LC,
including the availability of dedicated staff. Integrating
academic-sponsor, RA orientation into general RA training each
summer, giving that relationship credibility as an integral part of
the residence life experience.
Integrating academic-sponsor, RA orientation into general RA
training each summer, giving that relationship credibility as an
integral part of the residence life experience.
Selected Established Program Summaries
Institution Governance Finances
Arizona State Housed in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 300K budget, scaling up to 500K (800 students)
Program is for CLAS students. Administrative Positions:
Faculty director (25% time)
Full time recruiter/advisor (47K/year)
1/2 time program coordinator (English grad student)
1/2 time living/learning coordinator (works with peer mentors)
Indiana Housed in University Division. Funded from the Dean of Faculties Office.
Peers and a graduate assistant report directly to Jaceck Dalecki, FIGs
Iowa State University The program is coordinated and funded centrally, but all community On the books:
design and community operations are decentralized into the colleges 1 dedicated FTE (Doug)
and departments. Strongest student affairs/academic affairs 25% Corly’s time
connection on campus. Program has co-coordinators representing Budget person in Provost office Pay 30% of salary
each area; must have representation from both sides on every Registrar donates time and staff. Program provides GA support of
committee. $3,000-$5,000 per year
English Dept Provide $20-25,000 per year for linked course
coordination. This is for stipends and buy out. Buy one course per
semester of lecturer time ($11,000 administrative time for working with
English and LC administration). English and LC link steady at about 15
even though program has grown from 40 to 70. When English is linked,
they provide coordination; therefore the extra funding.
Class activities funding
$150,000 personnel listed above.
Peer mentors (almost every learning community has these) $7-8:50 per
week/2500 per year
Everything beyond: field trips, parties, cultural events, etc.
$375,000 for final two.
Professional development: conferences, in-house and annual institute.
Tinto, MacGregor. $15,000
Tuition dollars gained via increased retention = $3 mill return on the
$600,000. Plus satisfaction levels, camaraderie. Haven’t even tapped into
effects on foundation.
Historically: $500,000 per year over 3 years. Held centrally. Jointly
administered by student affairs and academic affairs. Sits in provost’s office
but decisions made jointly. She and Doug oversee that budget. Some
depts. Kick in, but primary budget held centrally. Money in Pres from 98. 95-
98 no organized structure. From 1998 on structure.
Institution Governance Finances
Iowa State University Off the books: Central funding does not support salary for coordinators.
(continued) Definitely other costs at departmental and collegiate level: staff, materials,
etc. That is handled at the departmental level. It can be on an overload or
part of assigned job responsibilities. Beneficial for departments to have LCs
because of retention. But it does take time to begin an LC. Departments
must ask what will staff give up and for faculty, what is the recognition and
reward??? ISU has been working to provide strong incentive for scholarship
teaching and learning=gets recognized if doing research on LC experience.
Made some progress.
*IUPUI Originated and coordinated in University College by a LC Coordinator. TLC: University College. RCM (Responsibility Centered Managed). Not
as much top down money. More is distributed among colleges.
Faculty Development: Conferences (e.g. Washington State Institute),
Dedicated FTE Coordinator in University College.
Initially gave $500 per team for co-curricular activities. No longer able to
do this. Also gave $500 professional development funding to faculty—
now only lead faculty who teaches the FYS.
$30,000 for faculty development: retreats, symposia. Funds cover food,
speakers, conferences. Spring symposium orients faculty new to the
program as well as continuing faculty. For faculty developing new TLC,
retreat follow symposium which provides planning time.
For the initial TLC, gave faculty credit for 3 sh course even though the
FYS was 1 s.h. But with templates created, the course is part of their
Salary for teaching FYS is $1500.
Faculty initially rec’d $500 in prof development funds + GE money for outside
of class activities.
Maryland Part of the Office of Undergraduate Studies, which is led by the
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, who is also Dean of
Undergraduate Studies. The responsibilities of Undergraduate
Studies include: Living-learning programs; Academic enrichment
programs; Interdisciplinary and individual studies programs; Academic
advising policy and assessment; CORE/General Education; Academic
planning and policy; Enrollment management; and University learning
outcomes assessment. There is a single staff person assigned to the
First Year Learning Communities program, at the rank of Assistant
Institution Governance Finances
Missouri There is a Director of Learning Communities plus Associate and Faculty members are paid $250 each year and it goes into a
Assistant Directors, a graduate student and a FIG coordinator. professional development account. Most use the money for pizza
parties for their students because they don’t have any access to
money for programming. There are also so extra funds in Residence
Life for programming. We also try to do a faculty luncheon once a
semester and the faculty look forward to a free meal.
Each community has $6.00 a head. This is used for fall welcome
which is planned by the previous year’s learning community or FIGs.
The Community Advisors and Peer Advisors help with this process.
Oregon Personnel: $600,000
Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies with an 80% Most in salaries
appointment for administrative responsibility of first year programs Faculty are paid $2,000 for teaching a FIG (this amount hasn’t
Program Coordinator (full –time professional staff member) changed since 2000) … the money goes directly to the faculty
FIG advisor (full-time professional staff member) member
Undergraduate students to do office work Undergraduate TAs receive a $500 stipend
Approximately 120 faculty members to teach 60 FIGS Residential component more expensive, as each residential TA
60 FIG academic assistants (undergraduate TAs) gets a single room + full board for the academic year, valued at
Housing also has hired a faculty member to serve as Director of approximately $10,000 (the Housing Office pays 60% of this cost)
Academic Learning Initiatives
Ohio State University Learning communities administratively located under Housing (except $3,000 - $10,000 per program (11 program) depends on how long,
for Scholars Program communities). Housing provides training and move in early—how active, e.g. nature of field experiences. The
resources, including dedicated LC coordination positions. Coordinators academic side may put in additional fund—some academic units
work with RAs, residence hall coordinators and academic contacts for match this funding. Housing fees is the source (Ron)
community programming. It is a programming position.
Texas The program is staffed by a full-time director and two other staff State funding via the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies
members, who are part of the new Office of the Dean of which gets a direct allocation from president/provost. The FIGs also
Undergraduate Studies, which [I think] reports to the Provost. There has a “local funds” account for other expenses (for example, food)
are 175 facilitators and more than 175 peer mentors. “Facilitators” are which cannot be funded with state funds; they have done some grant
usually professional staff members (academic advisors, student pursuit and will soon have an endowment through their foundation
services personnel). A few faculty members participate but there is no (many years of work to get that). Peers are compensated with $500
“reward,” (monetary or other) for faculty members and participation for their work during the semester (not for training session semester
does not have a role in the expectations for faculty teaching or service. before); staff who serve as facilitators are not compensated in any
way. They do not offer students “credit” since most students don’t
need credits and Texas has a special reward for students who
graduate with no more than 6 hours over the minimum.
University of Assistant Director for Learning Communities reports to the Director of Students pay a fee (a “service fee” of sorts) when they accept their
Washington First Year Programs. offer of admission. This fee is the source of the Learning Communities
budget. The student instructors pay tuition for their General Studies
Institution Governance Finances
Wisconsin FIGS: Housed under Letters of Arts and Sciences, Student Academic LLC Budget: Each LLC has a budget and decides how the budget will
Affairs, but it serves the whole campus. A FIGs Planning Committee be spent. LLCs also have steering committees: faculty, academic staff
composed of faculty and administrative staff review and approve and students. The core planning group indicates how they would like
proposals for FIGs seminars submitted by faculty. to spend the LC budget, but the monetary recommendations are
approved by the committee. The shared governance team also charts
LLCs: Reports to Housing. Housing (Director) provides general the course for annual and future goals
oversight. Associate Director of Residence Life oversees Chadbourne
and facilitates LLC start up, but governance is program specific and is
a shared governance model. Each LLC has Core Group: the Faculty
Director, Residence Life coordinator (FTE), plus additional staff person
who serves as Program Coordinator (FTE) (This is an academic staff
position) to support Faculty and Res life coordinators. For smaller
communities, this academic staff position is .50 FTE.