Examining the effects of living learning programs on first year success of undergraduates
Decarie, Linette A.
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This dissertation examines the relationship between living learning programs (LLPs) and student success at Boston University, a large, private research institution. The focus of this research was to better understand the distinctions between different types of living learning program formats (honors, academic, and special interest) and traditional housing in terms of the types of students they attract and what relationship they have with academic performance, retention, and student perception. Using the conceptual frameworks provided by Astin’s “I-E-O” model and Tinto’s longitudinal model of student departure, a mixed method design employing both quantitative (binary logistic and linear regression) and qualitative (interviews with LLP program faculty, staff, and student advisors) components was used. Results indicate that there were significant differences in student characteristics, academic performance, and perception between LLP participants and students in traditional housing. LLP participation was found to be positively related to retention, academic success and a student’s evaluation of the overall environment of the University. Academic LLP participation was linked to increased retention and first year cumulative GPA, while honors LLP participants were more inclined to rate their overall experience as excellent. These findings demonstrate that LLP format and composition are important in evaluating how these programs impact first year students. While research was limited to the students enrolled at a single institution, this study provides information about LLPs with varying level of academic integration, which can be useful to administrators looking to establish or review LLP programs on their own campus.