Occidental's Living and Learning Community: Assessment of the Program's Impact
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Occidental College implemented a Living and Learning Community (LLC) in the fall of 2000. Occidental's LLC revolves around freshmen living in the same dorm and enrolling in a common Core class for two semesters. The current study involved 378 (53 LLC and 325 non-LLC) freshmen. In the fall and spring, the students responded to a seventeen item survey concerning their Core class experiences and their level of connection to the Occidental community on a seven point Likert-type scale. Students' SAT scores, fall and spring GPA, race, and gender were obtained from school records. To account for the differing numbers of LLC and non-LLC students, the groups analyzed were matched on verbal SAT scores, gender, and race. Consistent with hypotheses, LLC students differed significantly from non-LLC students in their responses to six items in both the fall and spring. Three items showed that LLC students sought more academic support from their classmates than non-LLC students (e.g. "I showed drafts of my papers to other students in my Core class"). Three items indicated that LLC students felt a stronger sense of community than non-LLC students (e.g. "My Core class provided me with a sense of community"). In addition, the results yielded an interaction between fall GPA and students' sense of belongingness to the Occidental community in the prediction of students' spring GPA. The grades of the students who reported low levels of connectedness in the fall dropped significantly from the fall to the spring.