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. . . in an effort to increase critical inquiry in the classroom the Association
of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) called for active, student-focused
learning opportunities that would challenge students to immerse themselves
in their learning processes. This call to action is still relevant today,
and learning communities are a response to this call.
lems as a global pandemic or systemic racism, which require multiple perspectives and
collective thought and action (Benjamin et al., 2020).
Malnarich (2005) explains that effective learning communities " infuse intellectually
rigorous, inclusive curriculum with high expectations; design developmentally appropriate
assignments and award fluid credits " based on the work students are able to do;
and " invite students to participate in the creation of knowledge " (pp. 59-60). When most
effective, learning communities " practice pedagogies of active engagement and reflection "
(Smith et al., 2004, p. 67), community is intentionally built, and academic work is
integrated with cocurricular and residential opportunities. Learning communities can
be offered to students across the academic spectrum, from developmental learners to
honors students, with each community focused on " creating curricular coherence . . . to
teach skills in meaningful contexts " (Smith et al., 2004, p. 68).
Though, as indicated above, learning communities can take on many shapes and
sizes on individual college and university campuses, Levine and Shapiro (2000) identify
several basic characteristics that all effective learning community programs share: the
organization of smaller cohorts of faculty and students, an integration of the curriculum,
academic and social support networks and programmatic academic support, socializing
students to college expectations, collaboration between faculty in meaningful ways, effective
learning outcomes at the focal point of the experience, and a direct relationship
with the larger first-year experience. These characteristics overlap and align with
Goodsell Love and Tokuno's (1999) key dimensions of learning communities: student
collaboration, faculty collaboration, curricular coordination, shared setting, and interactive
pedagogy. These characteristics and dimensions communicate that the most successful
LC programs are those fully integrated into the college or university, fostering
collaboration between and across campus divisions. It's critical to provide all stakeholders
a seat at the table, " bringing together different units of the campus with separate
and distinct missions, creating institution-wide involvement in the kind of change that
is necessary if learning communities are to thrive " (Levine & Shapiro, 2000, p. 3).
One theory that details such intentional design focuses specifically on living-learning
communities and derives from the National Study of Living-Learning Programs
(NSLLP). " Using the quantitative and qualitative data gathered by the NSLLP over
10 years and several data collections, the NSLLP research team developed a Best Practices
Model (BPM) that depicts a set of components for successful LLCs " (Inkelas et al.,
2018, p. 17). The model (illustrated in Figure 1) is represented as a pyramid, organized
similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. There are 10 building blocks that stack upwards
in four levels: infrastructure, academic environment, cocurricular environment, and the
pinnacle. Each building block names critical elements of aspirational LLCs (Inkelas et
Volume 48, No. 2 * 2022 33

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - intro
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