Living, Learning & Leading through L3: A First-Year Leadership Learning Community

with Brett Bruner

About This Course

Fort Hays State University launched its inaugural first-year learning community eight years with L3: Live. Learn. Lead. as a retention strategy. During the past 8 years, more than 250 first-year students of all majors have utilized the L3 leadership learning community as a foundation for their curricular and co-curricular leadership development and engagement.

L3: Live. Learn. Lead. first-year leadership learning community was implemented in 2010 as the first (and still serves as the hallmark) first-year learning community, designed primarily to increase first-to-second year student retention while engaging students in transition throughout their entire first year. L3 is co-coordinated by the Office of Transition & Student Conduct (within the Division of Student Affairs) and the Department of Leadership Studies (within the Division of Academic Affairs). Each year, L3 engages 30+ first-year students in an intensive co-curricular and curricular engagement. In addition, students come from a wide variety of majors, including those pursuing a major, minor, or certificate in organizational leadership and those not. The most recent cohort (2016-2017) saw nearly 80% of students participating in L3 to major in a STEM-related area (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Agriculture, etc.).

This webinar/live briefing will provide a detailed overview of the L3 story, its structure, the results, and lessons learned along the way. Three curricular courses are integrated during the fall semester each year: LDRS 300 (Introduction to Leadership Concepts), POLS 105 (Current Political Issues), and UNIV 101 (Freshman Seminar). In addition, all 3 integrate a common reading book (Little Princes by Connor Grennan). Two courses are integrated during the spring semester - PSY 300 (Social Psychology) and LDRS 301 (Leadership Behaviors). A variety of on-campus co-curricular experiences occur during the fall semester that support leadership engagement as well as student transition. The spring signature co-curricular experience (a Leadership Learning Trip across the state or region) incorporates all experiences of L3 including the curricular and co-curricular.

Assessment data shows that L3 students are retained and graduate at a significantly higher rate than other first-year learning community students as well as all first-year students at the institution. Fall 2010 cohort (n = 30) were retained at a 77% rate (higher than the all-first-year student average of 65%), and the Fall 2015 cohort (n = 30) were retained at a 86% rate (higher than the all-first-year student average of 73%). Qualitative data from Arensdorf & Naylor-Tincknell (2016) identified that these students are more likely to form peer networks and communities of support as well as engage with and receive mentorship from faculty members during this experience.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of participating in this educational session, participants will:

  • articulate one reason for and one benefit of institutions intentionally cultivating leadership development potential in new first-year students;
  • define a learning community and transition utilizing the Learning Communities Association's (2017) and NODA: Association for Orientation, Transition & Retention in Higher Education's (2012) definitions, respectively; and
  • describe one new strategy to utilize curricular and co-curricular leadership development strategies within a first-year learning community to support student transition.

Accessing the Presentation

Once you complete your registration, you will be able to access the course by clicking on the "Login" button at the top of this page (or any page on

  • You will be asked to login with your NASPA user name and password. Once you have done so, you will hit continue and be redirected to your dashboard in the Online Learning Community.

  • You will find the session listed under "Enrolled."

  • This session is recorded. By clicking into, "Contents," you will find the session recording, resources, and PowerPoint slides. You may view the materials as many times as you'd like, at whatever pace you would like.

  • If you have any difficulty accessing the materials, please contact Jace Kirschner (

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