The University provides students with a range of Learning Communities (LC's), focused particularly on facilitating first-year students' academic and social transitions to the University. Students' experiences in their LC's and the outcomes associates with participation are tracked and assessed in a number of ways, including the First Year Experience study and retention statistics.
Student Outcomes: The Impact of Varying Living-Learning Community Models
Author: Martha L. A. Stassen, Director of Assessment, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Research in Higher Education, October 2003, Volume 44, Issue 5, p.581, 33pp
This study explores the effect of three distinct living-learning community models on a variety of student experience and academic performance outcomes. Central to the analysis is an investigation of whether there are differences in outcomes for learning communities with different missions and structures, all three of which fall into the "Linked Course" learning community design. Even in the least coordinated, most basic, learning community model, students show more positive outcomes (first semester GPA, retention, first-year experience) than non-learning community students. The fact that simple structures that facilitate student interaction around academic work (even without coordinated faculty involvement) have a positive effect for students of all preparation levels provides encouragement to campus leaders with limited resources who are working to develop methods for improving the undergraduate educational experience on their campuses.
Assessment Bulletin: Living-Learning Communities: Do They Make a "Difference"?, November 2001 (pdf)