New Living-Learning Community For Pre-Education Majors
The residence hall community offers support and socialization for new students.

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications
Sept. 14, 2007

The high demand for more teachers is one of the reasons why the College of Education is working to improve its student retention.

The most recent plan expected to help pre-education students remain motivated about teaching and keep them better connected to advisers and like-minded peers is the college’s new living-learning community.

A common challenge drove the college to add such a community, which opened this fall with 46 students.

Pre-education students typically spend their first two years at The University of Arizona taking general education courses.

This has meant that students weren’t necessarily developing relationships with faculty and advisers within the college, says Albert Muniz, the college’s recruitment and retention specialist.

“They kind of had to put their interests in education on hold,” Muniz says. “But what we felt we needed to do better was to keep their interest during that freshman and sophomore year and to say ‘you are part of the college even though you may not be taking education courses yet.’”

Now, students residing in the pre-education wing of the Colonia de la Paz Residence Hall live together, work together and learn together.

“We also want to provide them with some skills and resources so they can be successful in their first year,” said Ann Parker, the college’s director of admissions, advising and student services. “We want to educate them about our major and what kinds of experiences our students have.”

They even take part in workshops led by the college’s advisers on various academic topics, including study skills, getting experience with school-age children and what to expect as an educator.

Muniz says the students become part of a valuable cohort, which enables them to also connect on a social level.

“It can give them a sense of togetherness, and we felt that would be valuable,” he says. “Given the demand for teachers, we need to keep as many teachers we can, so there is a larger issue there.”

The first living-learning community arrived on campus during the mid-1980s, Sharon Overstreet, Residence Life associate director for residential education, noted. The UA has 12 themed wings or residence halls with about 1,200 student residents.

Among them are communities for those who are transfer or honors students, in addition to space for students majoring in pre-business, psychology and fine arts.

Several of the living-learning communities are in the process of trying to figure out ways to add more students and shared classes, Overstreet says. And the College of Engineering is planning to bring its living-learning community on board next year, she added.

“We always continue to develop the living-learning communities,” Overstreet says. “There is always growth in them.”


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