Engaging Students Through Living Learning Communities
- Friday, September 17th, 2021
As we complete our fourth week of the semester, I wanted to reflect on a visit I made today to one of our Living Learning Communities (LLCs) in the First Year Village. As I spoke with the Leadership and Communication LLC students during their COMMS 145 class, they demonstrated a solid grasp of the theory to which they have been exposed and a nuanced understanding of its application. They also shared their excitement about their first month together and the projects on which they have worked during their introduction to the Hill.
While not new to WKU, LLCs continue to expand across our campus, and the introduction of the First Year Village this fall boosts that expansion with 13 of the 22 LLCs residing in our newly opened Normal and Regents Halls.
Academic engagement must remain central to all we do as a community. These new facilities and the integration of academics into the life of students in their residence halls provide a powerful intervention that will alter the WKU Experience for these young people. It also will change the instructional environment for the courses in which we schedule these communities. Feedback around increased student engagement, peer support and outside-of-class learning demonstrates how well this model works.
Within each of our LLCs, students engage with their peers, faculty and staff outside of the classroom, yet connected to their studies. These engagements early in their first year at WKU create crucial bonds with our university. This helps our newest Hilltoppers to feel at home while creating a support system that will last beyond their first semester. The literature demonstrates that students who participate in LLCs persist at a rate significantly higher than those who do not. That effect is magnified for students most at risk of stopping out of higher education - another crucial step as we work toward our goal of an 80 percent retention rate for first-time freshmen.
To each faculty and staff member investing their time and efforts in our LLCs this year, thank you. Your commitment and leadership will provide long-lasting effects on our students’ integration into our community. Additionally, this distinctive experience will further elevate and differentiate our university in the Commonwealth and beyond.
Thank you for your continued work and commitment to transforming student lives on our Hill.
Timothy C. Caboni