Courses fit together around a theme
A LC has multiple courses "linked" around a common theme. Faculty develop a theme
and identify courses taught by each faculty member relating to the theme. These courses
work together to represent a cohesive program that typically spans from fall and spring
semesters, though summer session classes can be included as well. Most LCs at WCU
contain four or five courses, but that number is flexible depending on what faculty
believe to be the best structure.
For example, a theme from the current year is using virus discovery to build an inclusive
scientific community. The LC has courses from Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental
Health and carries a bacteriophage research project across these courses. Several
of these courses are dedicated sections of existing classes (e.g., BIOL 140; CHEM
139) that science students may take anyway, and this LC also has a special topics
course that is specific to the LC.
Students take courses together
The same students move through the linked classes together. Sections of the courses
are reserved only for students within that LC, a model which has been shown to help
create a sense of community and comfort in academic exploration among the students.
That community is further developed through class sizes, which tend to be capped at
24 students. Additionally, instructors in those sections can build on the student
knowledge and experiences from the other courses in the LC.
Most LCs target incoming first-year students, but others are aimed at sophomores/juniors.
It is up to faculty to determine what would be most effective for their theme.
LC culminates in a high impact practice
High-Impact Practices (HIPs) are certain educational practices that have been widely
tested and routinely proven beneficial for college students from a wide range of backgrounds
(Kuh, 2008). Many of these are being done by WCU faculty already (along with all the
other great teaching we do here), and incorporating them into LCs provides even more
benefit for students. Our LCs have incorporated several HIPs, including undergraduate
research, community-service learning, international experiences, and writing-intensive
Please review the HIP summary on the AAC&U website. It provides overviews of the HIPs: first-year seminars and experiences, common intellectual
experiences, writing-intensive courses, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate
research, diversity/global learning, service learning, community-based learning, internships,
and capstone courses & projects.
In addition to the positive impacts for students, faculty benefit from LCs as well.
LC faculty will...
- receive funds to use for professional development
- be given training and professional development through the Coulter Faculty Commons
- be provided with funds to use for student experiences
- receive a letter from the Provost in recognition of their work to attach to AFE and
Moreover, faculty can enjoy teaching classes of students who tend to academically
outperform their non-LC peers and take greater enjoyment from the learning process
(Taylor et al., 2003).