History

Established in 2001, UNC Charlotte now has 17 different options for new students.  Some learning communities are residential and others are non-residential.  Many of the initial learning communities have grown rapidly in size. Current communities range in size from 20 students to over 200 students. The majority are for new freshmen while others are for new transfer students.

Vision

To support UNC Charlotte’s commitment to student learning, the Learning Community Program seeks to enhance undergraduates' first year experience by providing all interested students dynamic, focused communities which promote growth and learning through curricular and co-curricular activities.

Mission

To increase students’ academic success, learning, and engagement by creating communities of students and faculty/staff through common courses, curricular innovations and co-curricular activities based on a major, theme, or interest.  A learning community is an academic program designed to meet this mission.

Organizational Structure

The Learning Community Program is co-sponsored by Academic Affairs and Student Affairs and will have one primary contact from each Division.  A Learning Community Program Steering Committee, composed of faculty, staff and students representing Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, is responsible for oversight of the Learning Community Program.

Core Characteristics

To be defined as a “learning community” at UNC Charlotte, each learning community should posses the following characteristics:

  •  A common community with a defined thematic or academic focus, sponsored by a college or department.
  •  A minimum duration of two semesters, of which one semester may be non-curricular engagement.
  •  A minimum of two common courses in addition to other defined mechanisms (residence, schedule, co-curricular activities) related to the outcomes of the community, one of which must be a course reserved exclusively for the LC student cohort.
  • Clearly identified and sustainable program administration and support structure.
  • Clearly articulated learning outcomes that reflect the goals and learning objectives of the University and the sponsoring academic program.
  • Clearly defined assessment and evaluation procedures that provide useful data for meeting program and learning outcomes.
  • Identified connections between Academic and Student Affairs programs that foster students’ personal, professional and intellectual development.
  • Collaborative, active learning experiences for students.

Other Recommended Characteristics of Highly Effective Learning Communities

  • An avenue, path, requirement or mechanism for students to contribute to the University or Charlotte community through service learning, community service, volunteerism.
  • Integrated and connected curricular learning experiences such as: innovative pedagogical approaches; tangible curricular integration with the common curriculum (more than block scheduling).
  • Broad group of faculty/staff who are connected to the individual learning community, and who foster the development of students’ academic and social support networks.
  • Students’ early integration to a particular academic discipline and/or profession.
  • Support and encouragement of faculty/staff publications and/or presentations, particularly on pedagogy, engagement, or innovation in instruction.

Outcomes

Core Student Learning Outcomes

As a result of participating in a learning community, students will:

  • Connect with other students, faculty, staff, and the University in a meaningful way
  • Experience a successful transition and acclimation to the University
  • Experience higher academic achievement (GPA, earned to attempted hours ratio, probation/suspension rates)
  • Show a greater rate of persistence (retention, time-to-degree)
  • More readily achieve the articulated learning outcomes specified by departments or programs
  • Demonstrate increased awareness of departmental, college, and University resources
  • Demonstrate the ability to be more academically self-sufficient
  • Experience a higher level of satisfaction with the University experience

Other Recommended Student Learning Outcomes

As a result of participating in a learning community, students will:

  • Be more involved in contributing to the college, department, University, or community
  • Desmonstrate improved critical thinking and collaborative problem solving skills (as a result of integrative learning)
  • Demonstrate an increased awareness, understanding, or capacity to successfully navigate cross-cultural differences (as a result of addressing diversity, multiculturalism, globalization)
  • Demonstrate improved knowledge and skills related to career opportunities.

Faculty/Staff Outcomes

As a result of coordinating a learning community, faculty/staff may experience:

  • Increased collaborations with students, faculty, and staff
  • Connections between curricular and co-curricular experiences Increased knowledge about students and their development
  • Disciplinary and interdisciplinary collegiality
  • Increased implementation of active and collaborative teaching and learning strategies
  • Increased knowledge about University resources
  • Increased involvement in professional development activities
  • Increased connections between their learning community, work and their scholarship
  • Increased recognition and reward