THE LIVING LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
The Living Learning Program implemented at the Residence Hall and Residence Suites in 2003 has proven itself as a very successful support method for enhancing the probability of academic success for students pursuing a medical degree at St. Matthew’s University. This living learning environment program strictly adheres to the same ethical and behavioral standards expected of future physicians set by St. Matthew’s University policies and the student handbook. A prime example of the success of the RH/RS living learning environment is that students who lived in the RH/RS environment for three or more semesters had a greater tendency to achieve academically.
The University of Iowa has determined that through emphasis on the living learning environment it has improved freshman retention by eight percent. Other studies would imply that this percentage is improved with professional and graduate student living learning environments.
New studies of student living and learning environments and achievement practices practiced at various U.S. Universities further underscores the importance and viability of the RH/RS Living Learning Program. The RH/RS Living Learning Program predates many of the now newly touted examples pointing to more successful student academic achievement. In addition, increased governmental and societal pressures on pass ratios and student achievement are bringing new levels of pressure on measured success rates. With constantly changing educational patterns the very successful Living Learning Program of RH/RS has undergone a major self study to document program strengths with a view toward identifying potentially
relevant academic success enhancing improvements.
The RH/RS Living Learning Program already encompasses, provides and carefully monitors the following areas proven by experience and practice to be significantly academically enhancing for a successful living learning environment:
- Quiet hour observance for week days and exam period weekends beginning at 10 PM monitored by peer students elected to RH and RS councils.
- 24 hour security monitoring both by electronic and on-site trained security personnel.
- Resident student elected councils meet weekly with RH/RS management counsel or staff.
- RH and RS counseling and mentoring.
- Separated special study rooms and areas for students who wish to study alone in quiet space.
- Full kitchen and laundry facility privileges for student residents.
- An IT specialist lives on premises to assist resident students with technological situations.
- Semester start-up and special needs transportation.
- “Special call” response taxicab arrangements.
- Electricity, telephone, internet, water and premium TV channeling are provided which eliminates the hassle of students having to place deposits and deal with several different service providers.
- The RH hosts semester BBQ events sponsored by SMU.
- Special occasion buffets and party events are provided for student residents.
- The RH/RS manager is provided for other campus housing needs and coordination for students necessitating alternative housing arrangements.
- The RH and RS provide available inexpensive accommodations for parents and relatives visiting student residents.
- The RH/RS management conducts continuous verbal surveys and periodic written questionnaire surveys to assure continuous quality control of the living learning environment and to make service and facility changes on an on-going basis.
- Negotiated discounts from vendors and merchants for student residents.
- RH & RS collection policy benevolently works with every student individually who encounter financial difficulties to tailor payment plans that fit their circumstances and thus reduce personal stress to enable them to better concentrate on their studies.
New enhancements for the Living Learning Environment
The most recent survey conducted indicated that the following improvements would be potentially beneficial in this already high qualitative living learning environment. As the result, the following are being implemented:
- New larger capacity refrigerator/freezer units are being installed in the RH rooms.
- Air conditioner units are being upgraded as required
- The RS has invested in the hardware and software for 10 apartment units to provide residents with the option of controlling their own electric and water costs.
- RH residents continuing on to the next semester will no longer need to vacate their rooms during semester breaks and vacation periods.
- Student tutors are encouraged where appropriate to live in the living learning environment.
Additional housing grants are being provided for students who commit to live in the RH or
RS living learning environment for three semesters. Based on the experience of other living learning
environment outcomes it would be anticipated that the academic success rate of those students electing
this program would be somewhat to considerably better than the whole of the student group.