The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - 40

Shannon R. Dean * Stephanie L. Dailey

component of the LLC, regardless of the type
(Garrett & Zabriskie, 2004). Living near faculty
gives students an increased confidence in their
ability to approach them. Students discussed
the importance of these relationships and the
care and concern faculty and residents showed
for each other within the community. Faculty
relationships established through LLCs were
not just beneficial for students academically,
but also fostered personal development. For
those interested in developing LLCs, it is imperative to consider intentional faculty involvement that moves past the traditional classroom
experiences.

Challenges of LLCs
Despite theory and research demonstrating the
powerful effect that college has on personal
growth (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005), LLC
participants did not mention other aspects of
college student development that is typically
seen with cocurricular experiences. Growth
in areas of problem solving, conflict resolution, teamwork, and leadership development
is often fostered during involvement activities
(Kuh, 1995), yet participants did not connect
their experiences with becoming autonomous
or learning independence, which was surprising considering prior research. Students
discussed feeling siloed in the LLC, and not
participating in many experiences outside the
community may have contributed to their lack
of exposure to other relational and interpersonal skills. There was not one participant who
referenced learning about ethics, cultivating
personal core values, or developing integrity
through the LLC. In addition to academics, activities outside of the college classroom (e.g.,
involvement in student organizations) help
students discover their purpose and develop
40

Students' Experiences in a STEM LLC

psychosocial skills (Kuh, 1995), yet they did
not seem to attribute such development to the
LLC, which diverges from other findings in
this area.
Most of the participants remained actively
involved with the LLC throughout their college
years, and almost all of them graduated with a
baccalaureate degree in a STEM field. Yet most
of them had not secured plans post-graduation,
at the time of the interviews. If students did
not continue to work or attend graduate school
in STEM fields, this is problematic, as the LLC
would not have achieved its intended impact
of promoting STEM advancement. However,
it may be that students did continue in STEM
fields post-graduation, even though they had
not secured positions during the time of their
interviews. We encourage future research to
investigate this further. For faculty and practitioners within LLCs, it is important to provide
students with opportunities for career exploration. These experiences may have helped students anticipate and prepare for post-college
transitions.

LIMITATIONS
Although the findings from this study are
valuable in helping better understand the experiences of STEM students in LLCs, there
are limitations to this research. This study
only examined STEM students in an LLC
from a single institution; thus, findings are
not generalizable, and it is still important to
note that STEM LLC students' experiences at
large public institutions may look vastly different than those at a smaller private university.
Furthermore, we collected data from participants after they had completed their college
experience. This has several positive attributes

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING

in terms of reflection; however, it might have
limited students' ability to recollect specific
details of their experiences. We also encourage
future research to explore the relational and interpersonal development of students in LLCs.
With STEM LLCs increasing in number across
the U.S., further research should also examine
the career trajectories of STEM students after
leaving college to determine the long-term
consequences of these LLC experiences.

IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE
RESEARCH
One of the implications that is rarely discussed
within the LLC literature is the challenges associated with these homogenous groups. Although there is little research on the potential
negative outcomes for students living in LLCs
(Spanierman et al., 2013), partly because the
outcomes are overwhelmingly positive, it is
important to note the siloed effect living in an
LLC had for the participants. These difficulties
can be addressed, but more research needs to
be done to truly understand the challenges associated with these communities.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
Findings from this study have implications not
only for future research, but also for student
affairs practitioners. It is important to foster
students' connections to the residence hall and
community through intentional programming.
Furthermore, providing opportunities for LLC
students to connect with other students across
campus is critical. This connection to the
college helps LLC students develop a sense of
belonging on campus, not just within the LLC.
These external connections may be even more

critical for those involved in LLCs connected to
intensive majors such as STEM, since students
in these majors can often feel isolated from the
rest of the campus environment.
Student affairs practitioners should also
develop better transitional experiences for students who leave an LLC, since students who
changed their majors often felt further isolation by having to leave the community. Allowing them to finish the remaining academic
year in the LLC could aid in their transition,
and creating more connections with others
outside the LLC through programming or
events could help them move from one residence hall to another or one major to another.

CONCLUSION
Living-learning programs are, on the whole,
beneficial and show positive gains for students
academically, personally, and socially-particularly for those involved in science, technology,
engineering, and math fields. These environments foster connection to faculty, community,
and the field of study. As such, faculty and staff
must continually assess these communities and
their benefits and challenges in order to foster
the best learning environments for students. As
colleges and universities strive to increase the
retention and graduation rates of individuals in
the STEM fields, living-learning communities
are still one of the best retention efforts. It is
essential to continue finding ways to enhance
these students' experiences and foster belonging in both the field and the college.

REFERENCES
Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college: Four
critical years revisited. San Francisco, CA:
Jossey-Bass.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - Intro
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