Last fall, Indiana University East began a learning community pilot program intended to better engage and retain newly enrolled first year students. Learning in Communities (LINC) exceeded expectations and will expand to include five learning communities for the fall 2007 semester. First year students enrolling for the fall are encouraged to join LINC.

Lee Ann Adams, Tutorial Services’ Reading Specialist and LINC instructor, said the pilot program provided some unexpected results. “The students bonded really well, which we expected,” Adams said. “What we did not predict was that LINC students would have better grades when compared to first year students not enrolled in LINC.” All four IU East LINC instructors found this to be true.

For Tim Alford, joining LINC was an opportunity to reintroduce himself to the educational experience. He said he had been out of school for 23 years before he enrolled at IU East and is now pursuing a degree in Social Work and Drug and Alcohol Counseling.

“I was hesitant to come back to school, and I didn’t know what to expect. LINC helped me to develop new student friendships and all the teachers worked together,” Alford said. “The sense of community helped me to really feel college wouldn’t be too much to handle and that I could really do it.”

The growing friendship and team work ethic of the community is what many of the LINC students attributed to making the program a success.

Business major Lisa Weireter of Lewisburg, Ohio, said there was an emotional spirit to the group. Feeling part of the group was an incentive to do well in every course.

“It was a family unit, and you felt more comfortable asking questions and helping each other in a family unit,” Weireter said.

Participation in LINC is an option for most incoming first year students based on their test scores. The program benefits students, using collaborative learning to promote higher levels of critical thinking and presenting diverse perspectives.

LINC students will take a block of two to four courses with their learning communities two days per week. In some communities, elective courses can also be taken. Throughout the semester, LINC students will not only attend classes and take breaks together, but they will also participate in lunch time discussions, interact with staff and faculty from various divisions, take a field trip, and work together in groups and alone to complete course requirements.

For more information about the LINC program, e-mail ealinc@indiana.edu or call 765-973-8431.