Each fall, Iowa State economics faculty member Ebby Luvaga starts with a blank book for the first-year agricultural business learning community she coordinates. Over the course of the year, she fills it with snapshots and handwritten notes about her freshmen. “Each student is different and I keep that in mind as I get to know them.” By knowing them better, Ebby helps them stay on track to succeed in school.

Iowa State knows that its students who participate in learning communities adjust to college living and learning more easily. That’s why, for 16 years, Iowa State’s learning communities program has become a national leader in helping its freshmen fit in socially and succeed academically. We now offer more than 80 learning communities with 70 percent of first-year students participating — serving over 35,000 students since 1995.

As for Ebby, in 2009, her agricultural business learning community won the Outstanding Innovation Award from Iowa State’s Learning Community Advisory Committee. And, the retention rates for her first-year students have reached 90 percent and higher.

“We strive to create a warm, welcoming environment and to provide opportunities to enrich our students’ academic experience.” Not to mention making sure their adventure at Iowa State has a happy ending.

To find out more about Iowa State’s learning communities, go to www.lc.iastate.edu.

Want to hear Ebby talk about student/faculty connections in learning communities? Visitwww.lc.iastate.edu/videos.html.