We examined how different types of interactions affect psychological sense of community among students in living-learning programs. Distinctions were drawn among 3 types of interactions—academic, social, and deeper life—in which students engage with faculty, staff, and peers. Accounting for both the type of interaction and the participants, we found 5 variables that predicted 50% of students' sense of community: academic interactions with peers, social interactions with peers, deeper life interactions with peers, deeper life interactions with faculty/staff, and social interactions with faculty/staff that involve a commitment of time. The results show the meaningful impact that peer interactions have on sense of community. Student interactions with faculty and staff also influence sense of community when they involve time spent together or deal with questions of meaning, value, and purpose. Understanding the impact of interactions on sense of community can help higher education leaders to intentionally design environments that are ultimately conducive to student success.


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pp. 593-608
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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