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Living Learning Communities

Living Learning Communities (LLCs) promote undergraduate student success by facilitating engagement in “opportunities for growth in and out of the classroom”, providing “support, guidance and resources that equip students to pursue their educational journey” and ensuring “students have the tools to complete their academic, career and personal goals” (UC Merced Definition of Student Success).

 As our campus grows and we look to enhance the academic experience of our students, we are looking to expand our current LLC offerings. This site provides information for UC Merced faculty who are interested in developing an academic Living Learning Community, including considerations for development, available support and a proposal timeline.

Living Learning Communities and Student Success

LLCs are communities of learners who live and learn together, with clearly delineated student and program learning outcomes. LLCs provide academic and social community tied to a course, major or interest area. LLCs balance academic and social development through activities and events outside of class that connect students to each other, demonstrate how academic concepts and theories have practical application, and introduce students to campus and community resources and networking opportunities.

Research shows that students who participate in Living Learning Communities, applied more critical-thinking skills, took advantage of opportunities to apply knowledge to new settings and demonstrated an increased commitment to civic engagement, which manifests in volunteering or service-learning. Students also reported a smoother transition to college (Brower and Inkelas, 2010). More information about the impact of Living Learning Communities on student success can be found here.

Living Learning Communities at UC Merced

Well-conceived and well-executed LLCs garner positive results because they focus on creating an environment for students that eases the transition to college and lays a foundation for success. Known benefits to students include making friends more quickly, pursuing and finding academic assistance more readily, connecting to resources more easily, and experiencing a large university as though it were much smaller. 

Qualities of UC Merced Academic Living Learning Communities

Essential Qualities

  • Creates opportunities where academically and culturally diverse students have a strong sense of membership in a unique community, whose purpose they understand and value, and with whom they engage.
  • Supports the development of academic community by requiring students to enroll in at least one common course (e.g. SPRK 001, pre-requisite or introductory major course, GE)
  • Develops and implements assessable learning outcomes (see samples HERE)
  • Significant faculty involvement (e.g. LLC coordinator or common course instructor)
  • Incorporates discipline-specific learning support and engagement
  • Incorporates non-academic partnerships to enhance the student learning experience
  • Demonstrates integration of at least three characteristics of High Impact Practices (HIP):
    • Significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time (e.g. a group project or service-learning opportunity)
    • Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters (Example: Out-of-class activities such as attending a lecture by a visiting dignitary and/or a discussion of common readings and assignments facilitated by an upper-division peer mentor)
    • Experiences with diversity, wherein students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that differ from those with which students are familiar
    • Frequent, timely and constructive feedback
    • Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning (Example: course assignments that draw on material covered in linked courses, student attendance and facilitated discussion at an event related to a course discussion)
    • Opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world application
    • Public demonstration of competence

Ideal Qualities

  • Significant partnership from the School or Department (e.g. funding, administrative support, additional faculty/staff involvement)
  • Demonstrated impact on closing achievement gaps for underrepresented students

Process

For Academic Year 2021-2022, the Division of Undergraduate Education will provide support for program development and assessment design. Upon submission of the Interest Form, our staff will reach out to set up an introductory meeting.

To help you prepare for your submission, a PDF of the Interest Form can be found here: Preview Form. Once you are ready to submit your request, complete this form.

2021-2022 Timeline

Interest Form Available

October 15, 2021

Program Development Meetings

October 15, 2021 –November 30, 2021

Priority Review Deadline

December 1, 2021

Acceptance Notification

December 15, 2021

Program Commitment for Fall 2022 implementation

No later than January 7, 2022