The space between us: a case study exploring faculty and residential life professionals participating in a residential learning community in a small college

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Weintraub, Susan D.
Residential learning communities have evolved over the last thirty years as an answer to the calls for increased educational quality and student learning outcome successes. This study explored both faculty and residential life professionals' experiences in their residential learning community in a small college in the Northeast. Through the lens of Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory, a single-site, qualitative case study was conducted with data collected through interviews, observation, and document review from both faculty and residential life professionals. Data were analyzed to determine the reported experiences, nature of interactions, and personal and professional development. Findings highlight six elements which have also been found in previous studies: student interactions; personnel and institutional culture; sense of collegiality; clarity of role and purpose; support, and time commitments. The study included perceptions of residential life professional staff and the importance of roles, staffing, training, and space. Importantly, both groups brought up the influence of space on campus, in relation to power, protection, and personality.