Date Approved

11-16-2015

Embargo Period

1-5-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Services and Leadership

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Coaxum III, James P.

Second Advisor

Walpole, MaryBeth

Third Advisor

Tantillo, Charles

Subject(s)

Low-income college students; Underprepared college students; First-generation college students

Disciplines

Higher Education

Abstract

Opportunity programs have utilized the learning community model through summer bridge programs for many years. First year learning communities have proven to be successful tools in retaining students and improving the overall college experience for students (Buck, 1995; Garcia, 1991; Gold, 1992). As opportunity programs seek ways to increase retention for first generation, underrepresented students, this study combines the successful communal relationships developed from the summer bridge program with the added academic and social support from multiple campus partners to create a comprehensive living learning community for opportunity program students in their first year.

Students from low-income families, first-generation college students, or who are underprepared are considered at risk and have more challenges transitioning into the university setting. Many times the increased transitional needs of this population are typically not met by the university (Folger, Carter, & Chase, 2004; Terenzini et al., 1993).

Results from this action research study show the unintended consequences of a living learning environment (Jaffee, 2007), while simultaneously showing the positive academic and social attitudes developed by the students, leading to an overall enhanced first-year academic experience through increased self-efficacy in their own learning.

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