Who should join a learning community?

The learning communities at Bellarmine University are designed for students entering their first year of college. Students participate in the program during the first year and may continue to be involved in the learning community as a student staff member as an upperclass student. Students can reside on campus in the residence halls or commute. Some learning communities are designed for specific majors and career paths while others are open to any major. Currently the learning community experiences are not designed to meet the unique needs of transfer students. Students cannot participate in both the Honors Program and a learning community due to the curricular conflicts.

What are the benefits of joining a learning community?

There are many benefits to joining a learning community (the research even says so!).

Improve your academic success. Students in the Learning Communities have greater access to peers who are engaging with similar course content. Because of this overlap in material, it is easier for students to create study groups and ask their peers questions. Our Learning Communities are designed to deepen student learning, which can ultimately lead to a better understanding of course material and enhanced student success.

Meet people. Learning Communities focus on developing a supportive, inclusive network so it is easier to meet people and make connections. Learning Communities strive to create an environment where students are able to establish meaningful relationships with faculty, staff, mentors, and peers that last well beyond the first year.

Develop a relationship with faculty. The faculty in the Learning Communities teach multiple courses throughout the programs and design co-curricular activities for students. This allows students to develop a rapport with faculty and opens the lines of communication. Some of the faculty even have their offices in our Learning Community residence halls!

Peer Mentoring. Learning Community Chairs and Mentors are Bellarmine students who have already participated in the Learning Community experience. Who could better empathize and relate to the challenges of being a student at Bellarmine? These students have taken the courses current Learning Community students are enrolled in, are able to identify the resources available at Bellarmine, and know all about the student life outside of classes.

Co-curricular Activities. The co-curricular activities are designed to help connect the concepts covered in the classroom to “real-world” examples outside the classroom. These activities could include a trip to the Muhammad Ali Center, hosting a community leader on campus, taking a trip to the farmer’s market, touring a medical facility, and more!

What is expected of students in learning communities?

The Learning Communities at Bellarmine University are optional experiences, however students participating in the communities are expected to be a partner in their education. The benefits from a Learning Community experience don’t automatically occur. In order for students to achieve the benefits, they will need to engage in the opportunities provided. The expectations of students includes:

  • Being an active and respectful member of the community
  • Attend the Learning Community Orientation in August
  • Attend community development and service activities (2 events each semester)
  • Attend faculty led co-curricular activities (3 events each semester)
  • Meet with your mentor twice each semester
  • Enroll in designated Learning Community sections of courses

Upon admission to a Learning Community, students will complete the LC Participant and Commitment Agreement, which reviews the expectations of students in more detail. Students should reference this agreement along with the LC syllabi and specific LC course syllabi for specific expectations.

How much of a time commitment is a learning community?

Since the learning community is structured within your academic courses, a portion of the experience naturally takes places in the classes that you take. The rest of your experience happens through the informal interaction that occurs within the residence halls, your study groups, connecting with your mentor, and the connections you will make with your peers are based upon your initiative and interest. The more formal co-curricular, service, and social activities occur 2-3 times per month.

Do I have to live in the residence hall designated for the learning community?

Living in the learning community residence hall is an optional part of the learning community experience. Students may choose to live in another residence hall or off campus while still fully participating in their learning community. All of learning communities are housed in Kennedy and Newman Halls.

Are commuter students able to participate?

Yes! Learning communities provide a great way for commuting students to feel connected to Bellarmine and their peers. Special attention is paid to design experiences with commuter needs in mind. Commuting students also have access to certain areas of Kennedy and Newman Halls so that they can meet up for study groups, visit with LC faculty, and drop by to visit their friends when they have a break in their schedule.

How do I apply for housing within the learning community?

Learning community students will apply for housing through the Department of Residence Life. More information, including deadlines and applications, can be found on our First-Year Student Housing site. Students will want to select Kennedy Hall on the housing application, as this is the residence hall Learning Communities are housed in. Students will also want to select their housing preference on their learning community application. Learning community and Residence Life staff will work together to confirm housing status for each student. Please note that housing within the learning community residence hall is only guaranteed for students who complete their learning community application by the March 1 priority deadline. All students who apply after the priority deadline will be placed based on availability. Learning community students are not required to live on campus. Those who are living on campus are not required to live in the designated residence hall for Learning Communities.

Can I participate in both the Honors Program and a learning community?

No, students are not able to participate in both the Honors Program and Learning Communities during their first year. Both programs have similar curricular requirements and participating in both would prevent a student from the full experience in either program. However, eligible students may be able to apply to the Honors Program after their first year in a learning community. Students who are eligible for both programs in the first year may direct all questions to Dr. Jon Blandford at jblandford@bellarmine.edu (Honors) and Kim Kerns at kkerns@bellarmine.edu (Learning Communities).

Is there an additional cost to participate in a learning community?

Not usually. Learning community activities are primarily funded by the program. In some cases, events will take place off campus and students may need to transport themselves or carpool with their peers to attend. While events are covered, students are expected to attend events that they RSVP to attend. If a student is a “no show” to an event they committed to attending, they may be charged for the cost of the event, such as a venue ticket or box lunch.

Will participating in a learning community slow down my academic progress?

Absolutely not! Learning community courses fulfill requirements for general education or your major requirements, both necessary for graduation. In few cases, a learning community course may fulfill an elective due to transfer credit.

Each community takes a different cluster of courses during the fall and spring semester. Please visit our homepage for more information.

What if I already have credit for one of my learning community courses?

If you have credit in an LC course, you will be exempt from retaking that course with the learning community. Students must submit their transcripts to the registrar in accordance to the Transfer of Credit Policy to maintain that exemption

Are there required activities?

A large part of being in a learning community happens inside the classroom, however, activities outside the classroom are a critical piece to the full experience. These activities may include field trips, a lecture or speaker that is brought to campus, service-learning activities, weekly study groups, and social activities to help you get to know your peers.

In some cases, learning community activities are connected to in-class coursework such as a written reflection. As you might imagine, it is difficult to write about something you didn’t experience! Required activities will be outlined on your syllabi and announced in class. The Learning Community Workshop, which takes place in early fall, is a required activity that is not connected to a classroom assignment.

Students participating in learning communities will attend at least three educational or co-curricular activities, two community social activities, and meet with their mentor twice a semester. The faculty, staff and mentors will work to create a number of opportunities to choose from in order to fulfill these requirements