Creating a Sense of Belonging
Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 23:03
Freshman year in an unfamiliar place can seem daunting, but the office of admissions at ISU seeks to help students find a sense of belonging and a structured learning environment through learning communities (LC).
"What we offer students here is a living, learning community," said Deb Barnhart, associate professor of nursing and LC coordinator for the nursing program. "I think learning communities help students get started on the right foot and interact with people."
According to the ISU website, as part of an LC, students enroll for the fall semester in "two or more courses linked by integrated assignments, a collaborative team of faculty members, and a learning community peer assistant (LCPA), who is an upper-division student leader."
"Learning communities have existed at Indiana State for about a decade," said Jennifer Schriver, associate vice president for student success. "They were initiated here based on national data that suggested that learning communities resulted in positive outcomes for first-year students, such as increasing motivation and involvement, increasing student retention, and improving academic achievement."
Kayla Langdon, a freshman nursing major, agrees that the Sandison LC helped her gain study habits and friends.
"Study groups are formed and friendships are made," Langdon said. "When friends and I get together to study the same material, we begin to have a good time by the way we are studying."
"We [nursing] were probably the second to do it," Barnhart said. "In the community we spend the first half of the semester learning how to be successful in college. In the second we look more at how to be successful in nursing, applying what we learned in the first half to the second half."
Most of the faculty that have participated in an LC, like Barnhart, have been enthusiastic about their participation, Schriver said.
"Faculty have indicated that they enjoy the opportunity to engage students in co-curricular activities and to work with other faculty in linked courses," she said.
"We all have a basic idea of how to look at student success," Barnhart said. "All of us share student success."
Langdon believes that every major would benefit from a learning community, and it helps students in many ways that everyone should experience.
"I enjoy and participate in many study groups with residents that are also striving towards the nursing program," Langdon said. "The biggest advantage of being in a learning community is the amount of help that is offered. We have a quiet study lounge that is open at all hours of the day."
"What you're learning here in college isn't going to be wasted, it's going to be used again," Barnhart said. "We've taken it one step further. It's important for people to realize that."