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June 7, 2006

ULM Learning Communities overflow with student interest

As the saying goes, you learn something new every day. Student Success Center staff members at the University of Louisiana at Monroe have discovered just how much their Learning Communities (LC) appeal to incoming first-year students, as the number signed up to participate in these innovative success programs has shot beyond even optimistic expectations.

The Learning Communities expanded from a pilot program instituted in the fall 2005 semester called Freshman Interest Groups (FIGS) involving 60 business students. Its success prompted the full-blown LCs.

Originally, academic support staff identified the new residence hall, University Commons II, with 230 beds, as the LC residence hall. Before PREP (Preview Registration Environment Program) even began, however, the hall had filled because approximately 255 residents and commuters signed up for LC admittance.

PREP has only spurred more interest, to the point that Student Success Center staff members are now making room for more students.

Students take three classes together: FRYS (Freshman Year Seminar), freshman English, and a third class from the core. All courses in the LCs satisfy ULM's graduation requirements. The LC has a designated Learning Assistant who serves as a Teaching Assistant for the FRYS class and as a peer mentor for the LC. Each LC will also have a mentor from the Student Success Center.

Research shows that students benefit both academically and socially from the communities, said Barbara Michaelides, director of retention. "Besides the obvious social benefit of having an instant community when students get to campus, there are academic benefits as well. Since the students attend three classes together, they will form study groups that help foster academic success. We are thrilled with the response because this program is nothing but beneficial to our students."

As their first group activity, the participants will meet in Scott Plaza to attend Convocation together on Aug. 21.

More information is available at 318-342-3667 or on the web at:

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