LEAP Campus Toolkit

Resources and Models for Innovation

General Education/Residence Life Partnership: Impact on Student Success

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Authors: Chris Carey and Rowanna Carpenter, Portland State University


This case study narrative is part of a “How-To” guide to help campuses use data to work toward inclusive excellence.

Portland State University, Oregon’s largest and most diverse university, has placed an increasing emphasis on student services and programs that support student success and retention over the last several years. Historically, one of the challenges that PSU has faced is low retention rates for first-year students. To address these concerns, University Studies, Portland State’s general education program, partnered with Residence Life to offer first-year living learning communities, an approach combining the high-impact practices of learning communities and first-year seminars.

University Studies has an established set of data collection and assessment practices that provided the basis for Portland State’s participation in the AAC&U Give Students a Compass project. As part of this project, we collaborated with Residence Life colleagues to study academic performance and persistence for 1) Students in living-learning communities; 2) Students in residence halls but not living-learning communities; 3) Students living with their parents; and 4) Students living in other off-campus housing. This research and collaboration with Residence Life contributed to the success of first-year students living on campus with specific attention on students participating in the living learning communities.

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