Seamless Living and Learning
KINGSVILLE - November 07, 2007
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A&M-Kingsville Living and Learning Community Blends Studies with Personal Interests
Educators know that students learn as much outside their classrooms as in them. A new residential program at Texas A&M University-Kingsville creates the environment that unifies what occurs both in and out of the classroom.
This semester, some students with an interest in engineering are living, studying and taking part in extracurricular activities together as part of an on-campus living and learning community.
Dr. Terisa Remelius, vice president for student affairs, led the effort to create the living and learning community. “Most schools throughout the nation are initiating theme housing on their campuses,” said Remelius. “The goal is to create an environment that provides seamless learning and living.”
Students in the program live in adjacent rooms in the university’s Turner-Bishop Hall. Special resident advisers majoring in engineering live alongside the program’s students and provide them with guidance on campus living, studies and future career plans. In addition, the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering provides a computer lab and an after-hours tutor, both based in the residence hall where the students live.
The living and learning community students also can participate in extracurricular activities designed just for them. The semester opened with a mixer hosted by College of Engineering faculty and other students. Other events for the engineering community include panel discussions with local engineers; talks from graduating seniors who have secured jobs and want to share their keys to success; and a walkthrough of a future campus construction project with A&M-Kingsville facilities staff, who will share the schematics and engineering involved.
“Research shows that the benefits of living and learning communities for students are higher grades, an increase in student retention through graduation and an increased perception of unity and community building,” Remelius said. She added research data also show living and learning communities help lead to a decrease in alcohol use and vandalism violations.
Fall 2008 will bring new theme communities to A&M-Kingsville for wildlife management and kinesiology students, Remelius said. The new theme housing selections were selected based on student interest and commitments for support from administrators and faculty. Students were surveyed at the start of fall 2007 and given more than 20 different fields of interests to select from. Some 650 students responded, putting wildlife management and kinesiology among their top choices.
Remelius then spoke with the administrators and faculty in the colleges related to these choices – the College of Education for kinesiology and the College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences for wildlife management – to determine how they could best support community activities and education supplements such as tutors and lab equipment. She also found out which had faculty that could enhance their current classes and develop new lesson plans specifically for living and learning community members.
Other colleges and their departments are currently discussing living and learning communities for fall 2009 with Remelius as well.
“Everyone here wants students to succeed, and living and learning communities help students match their goals and ambitions to their living arrangements and their lives outside the classroom,” said Remelius. “It greatly enhances their chances for a successful college experience.”
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