Living-Learning Faculty and Staff FAQ

Answers to faculty and staff questions about living-learning. See below for more housing-related FAQs.

Does the IUP Libraries have any Living Learning Resources?

Yes. See the Living Learning Library Resource Guide for details.

I would like to sponsor a learning activity in the suites, possibly conduct research, or perhaps learn more about becoming an academic liaison for one of the current academically themed cluster. How should I proceed?

To sponsor a learning activity in the new suites, you will want to identify the size, intended audience, and the nature of the program or activity, and then submit a request form.

If you would like to become involved with an existing academically themed living-learning cluster, discuss the possibility of initiating a new academically themed cluster, or conduct research as it pertains to academic performance in living-learning communities, please contact Dr. Michele Norwood or Dr. Jack Makara by e-mail at or

What is the difference between a learning community and a living-learning community?

Learning communities "link together learning opportunities—weather they be courses, cocurricular activities, special topics, or interactions and conversations with faculty and peers—to help students integrate and obtain a deeper understanding of their knowledge" (Korotsuchi, Inkelas, and Weisman, 2006).

There are four major types of learning communities: a) paired or clustered courses; b) cohorts in large courses (most often referred to as "FIGS" or First-Year Interest Groups); c) team-taught programs; and d) residence-based programs, most often referred to as living-learning programs (Shapiro and Levine, 2004).

Living-learning programs differ from other learning communities in that members live as a community of learners in a specific residence hall (or intentionally clustered portion of the hall), and participate in intentional learning initiatives and/or coordinated curricular programs and services designed specifically for them.

Are living-learning programs a relatively new idea?

Actually no. Residential colleges (where living space, classrooms, a library or resource area, faculty offices, and possibly faculty living accommodations are integrated into the same facility) originated in England nearly 800 years ago and became the design basis for a number of early colleges in America. In fact, at IUP, the concept of living-learning is more than a hundred years old, when Sutton Hall blended students, faculty, classrooms, and the library in an active living and learning environment under one roof.

Over the past several decades, living-learning programs have become commonplace at colleges and universities across America. Even though many are not residential colleges in the strictest sense of the definition, a number of institutions have initiated a creative assortment of approaches in promoting purposefully structured learning opportunities in on-campus housing.

Here at IUP, we have for over a decade maintained a variety of academic and special themed floors or clusters.

What living-learning communities are in place at IUP?

I have heard that the suites have learning-support space set aside for student learning activities. Can you describe the space?

See the list of reservable space in the suites.

Note that rooms cannot be reserved for summer.

What are some examples of intentional activities that can take place in the learning support space?

The learning support space can be used for out-of-classroom learning activities, including but not limited to the following:

  • Informal faculty and student discussions
  • Activities and meetings that enhance student interpersonal and multicultural awareness
  • Faculty advising
  • Tutorial activities
  • Study groups
  • Mentoring activities
  • Performances, exhibits or displays
  • "Meet and Greets" between faculty and students
  • Academic clubs and organizations

Is the learning support space in the suites accessible to students who do not live in the suites?

Yes. Learning support space is separated from the residential portion of the suites and is accessible to students who may not otherwise live in the suites or in other on-campus housing locations. Residents of the building gain access to the residential portion of the suites with their i-card.

What exactly is the amenity space located on the ground floor of the suites?

In addition to student housing and learning support space, there are a number of student service functions in amenity spaces located at street and courtyard levels of  Delaney and Putt halls, Suites on Maple East and Ruddock Halls all have such amenities.  Click on the above building links for details.

How have decisions been made regarding living-learning communities at IUP, and what impact have faculty members had on that vision?

The Living-Learning Planning Team, which met on a regular basis between September 2006 and April 2009, has a stated charge to "design initiatives, strategies, and programs that will foster the development of the living-learning culture and character of IUP's Residential Revival, which is integral to the university's mission and instrumental to students' achievement and their academic goals." Currently, the advisory board for Living-Learning Excellence meets each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) to discuss areas pertinent to the development and growth of living-learning at IUP.

Do living-learning communities really support student learning?

Several decades of research provide strong supporting evidence that student learning is not a passive, but rather an active and dynamic process that extends beyond the boundaries of the classroom (Astin, 1996; Tinto, 1993; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Astin (1996), summarized the importance of student involvement as "a powerful means of enhancing almost all aspects of a student's cognitive and affective development." He concluded that student involvement with faculty, peer groups, and academics were the three most potent forms of involvement.

With the above research in mind, successful living-learning communities are designed to facilitate student engagement with faculty and their peers, as well as provide structured academic programming. A number of single-institution studies have concluded that students in living-learning programs have a higher rate of retention, greater interaction with faculty, and an overall stronger academic performance than their on-campus counterparts not residing in a living-learning community.

As living-learning communities evolve at IUP, we hope to provide our own comprehensive assessment of the impact of living-learning initiatives on student academic performance.

Does IUP have a first-year residency requirement?

What advantages are there to becoming involved in a living-learning program?

Although the following is not an all-inclusive list, living-learning programs provide an opportunity for faculty to:

  • Interact with students in an informal, out-of-classroom setting
  • Introduce new programs and initiatives aimed at enhancing student learning
  • Conduct research and scholarly activity (in advance of potential publishing)
  • Provide supplemental instruction or tutorial assistance for difficult courses
  • Seek a sense of professional rejuvenation by practicing a varied approach to teaching
  • Implement initiatives intended to increase student retention for a specific academic program
  • Be seen by students and colleagues as an advocate for innovative approaches to student learning
  • Utilize Learning Support Space in the new suites for learning activities
  • Promote a stronger collaborative working relationship between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs

As a faculty member, am I expected to be involved with a living-learning community?

We realize that many faculty members need to carefully weigh the advantages relative to the potential time commitment associated with living-learning activities. It should be noted that your degree of involvement can be tailored to the amount of time you are able to invest, and can range from spending just a few hours per semester interacting with students in a residential setting (advising, tutoring, informally meeting with students, etc.) to an active and ongoing affiliation with a specific residential learning community.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to become involved with our efforts, we ask that you recognize the merits associated with a strong and vibrant living-learning program that can enrich the learning experience of all participants and add to IUP's reputation as a superior, first-rate university.

What are the references for this FAQ?

Astin, A. W. (1996). Involvement in learning revisited: lessons we have learned. Journal of College Student Development, 37, 123-133.

Pascarella, E. T. & Terenzini, P. J. (2005). How College Affects Students. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Shapiro, N. S. & Levine Laufgraben, J. H. (2004). Sustaining and improving learning communities. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Kurotsuchi Inkelas, K. & Weisman, J. L. (2006). Different by design: An examination of student outcomes among participants in three types of living-learning programs. In the 21st Century Project Reading Compendium. Association of College and University Housing Officers-International; Columbus. OH.

Dining FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions about dining at IUP

Resnet FAQ

Questions about residential networking at IUP

Housing I-Card FAQ

Information about using your I-Card for access if you live in the residence halls

Living-Learning Student FAQ

Questions students frequently ask about living-learning communities

Living-Learning Faculty and Staff FAQ

Frequently asked questions by faculty members about living-learning communities