A group of CLEWS members

Building Academic and Social Communities

July 14, 2014
By: WSU News

At Worcester State University, we want students to adjust and thrive, whether they’ve just arrived on campus or are preparing to take 300- and 400-level courses. Living-learning communities are one way we do this for resident students.

Living-learning communities provide organized, close-knit living options in our residence halls for students who share similar academic majors, interests, backgrounds, and career goals. They help new students adjust to college life, strengthen social and intellectual connections between students, promote involvement in interrelated academic and social activities, and build a sense of community.

A living-learning community arrangement made all the difference for 2014 communication sciences and disorders graduate Alison Hickey during her first year at WSU, especially when she took Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing.

“It was very difficult,” she recalls. “Many of us didn’t do well on our first exam.”

As a result, Hickey and other CSD majors living on her floor decided to meet in a Dowden Hall common room or the Library at night to study together for future tests. “We were able to help each other through the rest of the course,” she says.

Worcester State’s first LLC was established in Dowden Hall for first-year nursing, occupational therapy, and CSD majors. The LLCs for first-year and upper-class students in the Commonwealth Honors Program have been housed in Dowden and Wasylean Hall for several years.

Several years ago, Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement Director Mark Wagner, Ph.D., and Director of Residence Life and Housing Adrian Gage formed the Community Leadership Experience at Worcester State LLC in Dowden Hall. It encourages campus citizenship, supports social change, and fosters leadership development. In fact, CLEWS participants are now resident assistants, peer mentors, and orientation leaders.

This year, Residence Life is adding LLCs in Dowden Hall for students in the Alternatives for Individual Development program and Eco House in the new Sheehan Hall for students interested in environmental sustainability issues.

Hickey encourages resident students to take advantage of LLCs and get to know other members. “Talk to someone in class. Walk back to the residence halls with them,” she says. “That’s how I formed some of my best friendships.”

Residence Life is interested in expanding our LLCs, but proposals must meet the program’s core requirement: an intentional academic tie-in that shows students the ways their coursework and out-of-classroom experiences can complement each other.

“So far, we’ve looked at students’ interests as well as the interests of faculty when forming LLCs,” Gage says. “And we’re always making adjustments based on student interest.”

2 Responses

  1. Lisa Wells says:

    Learning communities are a great way to help first year students but many majors are not currently included in those learning communities. Why not have math/computer science learning community or something along those lines. We believe this could have helped students who were freshman last year adjust. Would be great asset to school.

    • Thomas Kelley says:

      Good afternoon Lisa,
      I would love to hear more about your suggestions on how we could expand and improve our living-learning communities at Worcester State. Please feel free to email me at thomas.kelley@worcester.edu.

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