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New Director Leads Communities of Learners

Date: Feb. 25, 2002
By: Martha Ybern
Photo by Dottie Stover
Contact: : Chris Curran
Archive: Profiles

Pamela Person is the newly appointed director of UC's learning communities program. She plans to take the program university wide.

The learning communities program is a means to enrich students' first-year experiences in college. A learning community is formed when a small group of students is enrolled together in a specific cluster of courses. These courses are linked together by a common theme or simply by the fact that students are co-enrolled. Pamela Person

To support this approach, faculty are specifically selected and attuned to the needs of first-year students including helping them to foster a small college network while also utilizing the resources of a major university. In turn, students have a ready-made vehicle to build a sense of community - not just academically but also socially.

In her new position Person will provide valuable insight and a new focus to the role that learning communities will play at UC. The program's aim is to boost recruitment and retention. Part of her approach is to collaborate with program directors to discuss ways in which the program can be most effective. The initiative is funded through the Provost's Office by Success Challenge grant money.

LINC Up (Learning in New Communities) began as an experimental program in 1999 geared to assist students in adjusting from high school to college. The first-year model met with success by utilizing courses that were coordinated specifically for first year students. During fall 2000 the program was spearheaded by Wayne Hall, then associate dean of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences and now vice provost for Faculty Development. Hall concentrated on finding students to participate and faculty to coordinate courses. Crucial to the program's success is the expansion of more class clusters, which are a group of courses designed to encourage interaction and open lines of communication between students and faculty, resulting in learning communities where students are able to integrate content from one course with content from another.

Research indicates that students who participate in learning communities earn higher grades and are more satisfied with their college experiences. Thus ultimately, LINC Up makes students feel more a part of UC.

Person brings considerable experience in the student services area to her new post. Over the past 10 years, she has served as director of the Career Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), career services coordinator at the School of Business at UAB, student affairs officer for the vice president for Student Affairs at Southeast Missouri State, and career counselor for the Office of University Career Services at Southern Illinois University.

Person's goal is to see learning communities expand into every college at UC. According to Hall, the program is growing and has approximately 30 course packages for students to choose from with about 20 to 25 students per package. For more information about learning communities, contact Pam Person at (513) 556-4741 or click here to go online.

To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.

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