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Emily E. Virtue, Ph.D.

Gayle Maddox, Ph.D.

Ken Pfaff, Ed.S.


qualitative, faculty interaction, learning communities, HIPS


A majority of the research on the impact of learning communities has focused on the positive outcomes for students in their first year of study (Andrade, 2007; Goldman, 2012; Laverick, 2018; Wathington, Pretlow, & Mitchell, 2010). Less is known about the impact of learning community involvement as students complete their enrollment and persist through their next three (or more) years of education. Recent studies have addressed learning community involvement using qualitative measures. This article adds to the literature on learning community impact by describing an investigation of how juniors and seniors characterize the influence of their first-year learning community participation. Findings from the study illuminated the importance of faculty involvement and preparation, the use of High-Impact Practices (HIPS), and ways we might attend to peer dynamics in our learning community classrooms. The practice of following students to determine the possible lasting effects of learning communities has informed our work, and we argue that this practice should be included in learning community program assessment.

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