Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Peggy Whitby-Schaefer

Committee Member

Tom Smith

Second Committee Member

EmmaLe Davis


behavior systems analysis;living learning communities;risk factors


Living learning communities in higher education involve students living in a shared residence space and a faculty or staff member leading various activities. These communities have been shown to help students transition to and retain in higher education, promote higher grade point averages, and provide peer support. However, only a limited number of published studies have shown the benefits for students who may have adverse experiences because they come from diverse backgrounds. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived social support received and the benefits of the support across a sample of first-semester living learning community students with and without risk factors who lived in different learning communities at a large four-year public university. This study used a behavior systems analysis tool to capture perceived living learning community social support. The behavior systems analysis tool allowed the researcher to explore the supports at the system level and to focus on social support which has been determined to be a predictive variable for higher education retention. Students gave reports suggesting programming had, at times, aligned with recommended practices, yet differences were found across different disciplines of living learning communities. Findings are discussed in relation to diversity of the participant and recommendations for future research is provided.