Learning communities (LCs) have received considerable attention for their potential to increase retention and academic performance among first-year college students, but questions remain as to whether they facilitate student success and why. As operationalized in the current study, improved communication processes and team-based instruction are central LC design features. One and two years after participating in communication-intensive learning communities, students showed modest but statistically significant advantages in GPA, retention, and credit completion. Survey results confirmed that students and faculty assigned to the learning community conditions perceived more opportunities to communicate with colleagues, instructors, and instructional support staff. The results suggest that the learning community design created such communicative advantages as increased opportunities for interaction among faculty, staff, and peers; enhanced feelings of social integration; and increased access to student services.
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