learning communities, leadership, multicultural competence, first-year students, SERU survey


The purpose of this study was to investigate the associations between first-year undergraduates’ (n = 1,701) participation in learning communities and their development of leadership and multicultural competence. The sample included first-year students who were enrolled at six large, public research universities in 2012 and completed the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey. The results of hierarchical regression analyses suggest students who participated in learning communities reported significantly higher development of leadership and multicultural competence controlling for demographic variables, perceptions of leadership and multicultural competence when they started college, participation in other high-impact educational practices (i.e., first-year seminars, common book reading programs, and learning communities), academic engagement, sense of belonging, faculty interactions, and perceptions of campus climate.