Living Learning Communities: Increasing Student Retention through the Integration of Academics and Residence Life

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University of Montana Conference on Undergraduate Research (UMCUR)

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Loomis, John N.
ScholarWorks at University of Montana
lecture / presentation description
The University of Montana class of 2007 had a four-year graduation rate of 23.1%; the class of 2005 had a six-year graduation rate of 47.8%. In addition, 28.2% of the 2010 freshmen class withdrew from The University of Montana before the end of their first year. In an effort to increase student retention, this project focuses on the development and implementation of a Living Learning Community (LLC) in a freshman residence hall. Research indicates that LLC programs result in improvement both in academic performance of the students involved and the students' perception of their first year experience. This combination of effects has resulted in increased retention rates for the universities that have integrated LLC programs into their residence halls. This LLC program focuses on a first year chemistry course for students in pre-health sciences, some biology degree options, and all chemistry options. The students chosen to be members of the LLC were Craig Hall residents that had placed into the course through the Chemistry Placement Exam. The course workshop experience, a two hour block of peer-led instructional time focused on concept development, student interaction, and development of problem solving skills, was transferred into the residence hall. In addition, hall programs were offered that focused on supporting the students of the LLC. The data analysis from the first semester indicates that the LLC students had a higher retention rate and a better average grade than the non-LLC students. This project will provide important lessons on implementation of future LLC programs in the residence halls by the Residence Life Office, which will begin in the fall of 2012.