Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Stella Ann Burns

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

Second Advisor

Roger C. Cleveland

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

Third Advisor

Trisha Clement-Montgomery

Department Affiliation



As access to higher education for underserved minority (USM) students has consistently increased over the past 20 years, college and university campuses across the United States have observed an achievement gap between USM students and their white counterparts (Brown, 2019; Doan, 2015; Flores, Park & Baker, 2017; Pope, 2002; Ramos; 2019). This achievement gap is acute and carries significant consequences if not addressed. As campuses seek to find solutions to close this achievement gap, it is essential to identify strategies that meet the needs of USM students instead of waiting for students to adapt to higher education and campus culture (Aries, 2008; Gross, 2017). Utilizing the theoretical framework Astin’s (1984) Theory of Student Involvement, Astin’s (1993) I-E-O Model and Critical Race Theory, this qualitative study explored the impact of living learning communities (LLCs) on the college success of underserved minority (USM) students at Southern Regional University. Through individual semi-structured interviews, this study provides insight into the lived experiences of five underserved minority USM students who live on campus and are members of an LLC and four USM students who live in campus housing but are not members of an LLC. The findings from this study suggest the benefits of living on campus, regardless of LLC participation and stress the importance of having a sense of belonging, establishing relationships with faculty or staff and self-efficacy.