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Residential learning community partnerships: Faculty perceptions of hall directors' roles in student learning

Kramer, Samantha

There is evidence to suggest that collaborations between academic affairs and student affairs can be meaningful to students' learning experiences both in and out of the classroom. Residential learning communities (RLCs) are popular avenues by which faculty members and residence life professionals can work together to provide opportunities for students to integrate their curricular and cocurricular experiences. Although these environments can be effective, many RLC programs face challenges, including professional cultures and organizational structures, that may hinder collaborations between faculty members and residence life professional staff members. The purpose of this study was to explore RLC-associated, full-time faculty members' perceptions of the roles of hall directors with whom they partner in residential learning communities. This case study was conducted at a private, medium-sized university with a reputation for its engaged faculty and residential learning community program. Through interviews, RLC-associated faculty members from the institution shared their experiences with and perceptions of residence life professional staff members with whom they worked. Results from the study indicate that faculty members described the hall directors as subject matter experts, as providing continuity within their communities, and as close partners in student learning. Implications for research, theory, and practice are discussed, including ways in which residence life professionals may be empowered to view themselves as experts in the student development field and how they may help faculty members learn more about holistic student engagement.