The iBelieve Intitative at the University of Arkansas serves as an example of a learning community. Learning communities are high impact practices that assist students in working together toward a common goal. The iBelieve Initiative focuses on improving the graduation rate of African American males at the University of Arkansas.
High Impact Practice (HIP) 3: Learning Communities
J.L. Jennings, Assistant Director of Retention at the University of Arkansas; Alishia Ferguson, Director, School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas and Charles Small,Senior Associate Athletic Director at Iowa State University started the “iBelieve Initiative.” The iBelieve Initiative is an example of a learning community at the University of Arkansas. Jennings presented “The iBelieve Initiative: Exploring Factors Outside Academic Preparedness that Influence Success among African American Male College Students” at the HIPs retreat.
Jennings states, “At the University of Arkansas, African American male student athletes’ graduation rate based on the 2009-10 cohort was 30%. The overall graduation rate of African American male students at the University of Arkansas is 48%. The overall graduation rate of students at the University of Arkansas is 62%. African American males make up 2% of the overall student body. Understanding their experiences can contribute to the development of programs and interventions that can promote academic success. Twenty-five (25) University of Arkansas African American male student athletes and 25 African American undergraduate students who do not participate in collegiate athletics were invited to participate in the iBelieve Initiative. Participants attended monthly meetings that emphasized the importance of identity and resiliency and kept a journal documenting their academic successes and what strategies contributed to their success and participated in interviews. Prior to the programming, nationally recognized motivational speakers facilitated a Black Male Summit.”
Jennings discussed the various ways they encouraged the participating students to reflect on their self-awareness, academic career, and trust. They also engaged students in food and fellowship programs and provided faculty mentors to assist students.
For more about High Impact Practices and HIP 3: Learning Communities, see HIPs: High Impact Practices
This content was developed from a presentation at “Are We H.I.P. Enough? A Retreat Showcasing High Impact Practices on Campus” coordinated by Brande Flack, Danielle Dunn, and Deborah Korth and sponsored by the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education and the Offices of Student Success.