first-generation, learning community, high-impact practice, engagement


This Practices from the Field article describes the rationale and operationalization of an interdisciplinary team-taught first-year inquiry seminar and learning community program at a large predominantly White research institution. The authors both serve as faculty members in the College of Education and Human Development and teach in the program. This initiative is unique in that we employ a micro-learning community model with students and faculty teaching teams within a single course.

Using the frameworks of high-impact and effective educational practices (Kuh, 2008), the authors describe the seminar and the selected practices that are intentionally integrated into the curriculum (e.g., common book, writing intensive, experiences with diversity, and others). We discuss specific pedagogical practices and course activities, including use of iPad in design of small group projects. Another feature of this curriculum is its focus on engaging all students, including a growing number of first-generation and immigrant students, comprising approximately 40% of the entering class.

Additionally, we include assessment data based on student survey responses focused on key practices. Discussion and implications conclude the article where we provide recommendations for higher education professionals and student affairs practitioners who are involved in learning community initiatives.