High Impact Business Learning Communities

  • By Natalie Shaak
LeBow Learning Community Students in Residence Hall

This fall, LeBow’s new Business Learning Community (BLC) members are receiving additional support as part of the new legacy program. The program was created by LeBow students with financial support from Dean’s Advisory Board member Bruce Fischer ’77, MBA ’83. It was piloted last year and groups LeBow alumni and upperclass BLC members with first-year students to offer networking and support throughout the year and ensure their success at the University.

This is just one way learning communities are offering impactful experiences to LeBow students. They also incorporate a number of innovative educational “high-impact practices” identified by the Association of American Colleges and Universities that greatly impact student success. These include first-year experience programs, integrated community learning, faculty engagement outside the classroom, and global and service learning, which have been at the center of LeBow’s learning communities for the past 15 years.

With both academic and residential learning communities, LeBow is able to engage a large number of students each year in activities and conversations outside the classroom that contribute to their retention and overall success at Drexel and beyond.

Working closely with LeBow learning communities over the past 10 years, clinical professor and Director of General Business Studies Chris Finnin, EdD, saw the impact they were making, which lead him to focus on them for his doctoral dissertation.

“I had the opportunity to watch our learning community students move into leadership positions in LeBow and the University,” he said. “I wanted to see just how the learning community was shaping their academic career and growth as leaders.”

His research looked specifically at the BLC and the impact it has on student success and retention. He compared the academic achievement and engagement of BLC members and non-BLC business students in their third year at the University and found results that mirror other national studies.

Despite engaging in similar coursework during their time at Drexel, BLC students reported significantly higher understanding of global issues and higher perception of their creative thinking skills, leadership abilities and study skills than non-BLC students.

Additionally, BLC members had higher grades and reported feeling more connected to the campus community overall, which is a key piece in student retention.

“The interaction students have with their peers within the community moves from the social aspect to the academic and back again,” says Finnin. “This interaction helps provide students with support in multiple aspects of their life at LeBow — from having someone to eat lunch with,
vent with about math homework or having a shoulder to lean on when homesick.”

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