Faculty and Staff Involvement
University Student Housing strives to create environments for students which foster academic and personal success in alignment with the mission of the institution. Our department seeks to develop an appreciation of learning and motivate students to spend more time and energy on educationally purposeful activities. Across the nation, college administrators are finding that the development of academicaly-integrated residential programs significantly impact student success. The collaboration and involvement of faculty and staff within these programs are key components to creating these invaluable learning experiences.
Every year, University Student Housing honors student-nominated faculty who have demostrated exceptional education skills in our Professing Excellence » ceremony.
What are "Learning Communities"?
The term "learning community" can mean many different things. Astin (1985) has defined a learning community as "small subgroups of students...characterized by a common sense of purpose...that can be used to build a sense of group identity, cohesiveness, and uniqueness that encourages continuity and the integration of diverse curricular and co-curricular experiences". On the Texas Tech campus, a learning community houses a group of students with a common academic or thematic interest on one or more floors of a residence hall or complex.
Why do we promote learning communities?
Studies show that students are more successful when their academic experiences are integrated with other aspects of their lives. Learning communities allow for interaction with others who share similar interests, enhancing development of mutual commitment to personal and academic success. Ongoing opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and dialogue with educators assists students in making personal meaning of their in-class experiences outside of the classroom; specialized programming further promotes practical application of coursework and general student engagement. Learning communities enable students to develop communication and leadership skills and encourage appreciation for lifelong learning.
What is a stakeholder?
A stakeholder is anyone who finds an interest within a learning community and volunteers his/her time to contribute to the students' experience within the learning community. Each learning community has a stakeholder group consisting of involved faculty, staff and students. The group acts collaboratively to develop and implement programming and activities for students and provide overall guidance for cultivation and growth of the learning community.
Residence Life staff are skilled in creating community and assisting students in their personal development; faculty and academic staff are experts regarding curriculum and academic success; students provide the most in-depth understanding of student experience and need. This collaboration of experts is essential to effectively connect curriculum to the community to enhance student learning.
What can I do as a stakeholder?
Stakeholders are encouraged to become as involved with the community and students as their time, interest and priorities allow. The role of a stakeholder can take on many different forms such as attending monthly stakeholder meetings and community events, contribute to development of ;learning outcomes and goals, planning events, facilitating educational experiences, consulting, and providing valuable information and resources. Each stakeholder is encouraged to participate in at least one event or activity each semester.
With one-to-two hours an academic year, a stakeholder could:
- Attend a community dinner or event
- Serve as a discussion or activity facilitator
- Participate in a field or service trip
- Utilize residence hall space for final project showcase from academic classes
By reading a few email messages each month, a stakeholder could:
- Provide input and insight on the educational curriculum of the students
- Better understand the issues facing students at Texas Tech University
- Provide information on university or Lubbock community events
- Connect classroom discussions to the events and issues of the students
In one hour per month, a stakeholder could:
- Facilitate specialized study sessions with students
- Facilitate a discussion series incorporating your research interests
- Serve as a member of the stakeholder group to guide the community in its learning objectives and goals
- Develop strong mentoring relationships with students
Benefits of becoming a stakeholder
Many educators find the most rewarding experience come from working with engaged students committed to learning; University Student Housing can provide you with this experience. Volunteering time with a learning community enables faculty and academic staff to interact with students in a unique way, in their living environment. Some of the benefits of becoming a stakeholder include:
- The opportunity for direct contact with students to better understand the current student culture, enabling more effective teaching
- The opportunity to develop contacts between departments and across campus
- Revitalization of class material through interaction with committed students
- A positive rapport with students that can facilitate a more positive classroom
- Gain knowledge regarding campus resources that can be utilized in the classroom to enhance learning
As you can see there are significant benefits to becoming a stakeholder. Current stakeholders have commented that the interaction with students is the primary benefit. Through the learning community, faculty and staff are able to better understand students and therefore are able to utilize unique means to educate students.
What if no learning community specifically fits with my discipline/interests?
Unfortunately, University Student Housing is unable to offer learning communities to fit the specific academic interests of all students. Students still gain from interactions with faculty and staff from outside of their academic fields. University Student Housing promotes students' interaciton with faculty and staff in all residential settings, not just within the learning communities. There are ongoing opportunities for involvement for any and all interested faculty and staff.
What are "Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs)"?
Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs) are programs that directly integrate the curriculum with the residential experience. Cohorts of up to 20 first-time freshman students are housed together on residence hall floors and are co-enrolled in a set of courses during the fall semester. Most existing FIGs are nested within one of the learning communities, but potential exists to develop FIGs outside of the learning communities. The set of courses generally consists of a small seminar course, in which only the FIG students are enrolled, and several larger lecture courses in which the FIG students are enrolled into specific sections. This creates an intentionally constructed connection between students' classroom and residential experiences.
How can I get involved in a FIG?
Inquiries from instructors interested in having their sections included in a FIG or departments/programs interested in developing a FIG are welcome.
Building Residential Components into Academic Programs
University Student Housing has built partnerships with academic units to provide a residential component to existing progams involving development of student cohorts, such as the ConocoPhillips Academic Success Bridge Program, South Plains Mathematics Scholars Program and Collegiate Recovery Community. If you work with an existing acacdemic program, or are developing one as part of a grant or other proposal, and are interested in building in a residential component, please feel free to contact University Student Housing to explore the possibilities.
If you are interested in getting involved in the residence halls or have additional questions about opportunities for involvement or University Student Housing in general, please contact the Residence Life office at 806.834.0786 (Available Monday-Friday 8:00 am through 5:00 pm) or Tamara McClain