The Listen, Live and Learn (LLL) Programme at Stellenbosch University (SU), which started as the first of its kind in South Africa in 2008, manages to prepare students as agents of change in society where they help to build and support thriving communities.
This is one of the findings of Dr Munita Dunn in her recent Master's degree on stereotypes and prejudices among students living in LLL houses at SU. Dunn is the Deputy-Director of SU's Centre for Student Structures and Communities.
LLL houses are living spaces where senior students based on diversity factors such as race, gender and field of study live together for a year according to a central theme such as community service, leadership, culture and media. These students take part in a series of discussions around the central theme and also invite academics, entrepreneurs and experts to participate.
Currently 165 students are living in LLL houses, 119 of whom in the newly built LLL complex. The complex comprises 11 separate LLL "houses".
Through her research, Dunn wanted to determine whether higher levels of interaction among a diverse group of senior students, who lived in LLL homes in 2013 and participated in various activities, could help break down stereotypes and prejudices.
She used electronic questionnaires to measure students' tolerance in terms of gender, race, language, socio-economic status and nationality.
As to why she did the study, Dunn says, "SU's position in the rapidly changing context of higher education necessitates transformation, the promotion of diversity as well as the social integration of all students. It is therefore important to determine whether the LLL programme does help to make SU more diverse, to break down stereotypes and to change discriminatory behaviour."
Her research showed that closer interaction between LLL students did not immediately reduce stereotypes and prejudices about gender, language, race, socio-economic status and nationality.
According to Dunn, it can be attributed to students' personal development, especially during the so-called crisis phase that forms part of the adjustment process.
She says the crisis phase usually follows the honeymoon phase when students are euphoric and excited about the diversity and uniqueness of the LLL environment. Dunn adds that it is difficult to link these phases to a specific period because they depend on the group's development, and are also different for each individual student.
"In the crisis phase of adjustment, students are confronted with the reality of diversity and the challenge to adapt to it. They experience frustration, disappointment, impatience and tension, and also try to understand themselves within a diverse context."
"My research has shown that although students initially functioned as individuals, they later focused more on collaboration, achieving common goals and critical dialogue."
Students are thus in a process where they develop as agents of change, added Dunn.
She says the contribution that LLL houses, as learning communities, make to the development of students inside and outside the classroom should not be underestimated. A learning community is a network of relationships that help bridge the gap between students' learning experience both inside and outside the classroom.
Dunn says although her research highlighted certain shortcomings of the LLL programme, especially concerning the adjustment of students and the support they need in this regard, she was able to gather valuable information about students' interpersonal and intrapersonal development, as well as the programme's content and outcomes.
She mentions that the shortcomings have already been addressed in the training programme LLL students will follow in 2014.
According to Dunn, the concept of LLL houses deserves more attention in higher education because it "prepares students for the reality and diversity of society, and is part of another type of housing on campus that focuses on the development of senior students and the associated skills."
She says her study wants to help start a conversation about the importance of learning communities as part of a co-curricular approach in higher education in South Africa. Besides the curriculum, a co-curricular approach focuses on developing students' academic, personal and leadership skills, social tolerance and community engagement.
This article originally appeared on the skillsportal.co.za on 02 May 2014.
Dear Prospective Matie,
We would like to bring it to your attention that placements on the grounds of your resume are not accommodated in the new SU residence placement policy. We kindly request that you do not send any resumes or CV’s to the Residence Head or House Committee Members as it has no bearing on placement of students in residences. Any telephone calls to state your case in this regard will similarly have no effect on placement.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Centre for Student Communities
19 July 2013
The University campus as well as the greater Stellenbosch area suffered a series of burglaries during the past June-July holiday. Despite security measures that were in place, break-ins occurred in containers at Engineering, the Rek&Stat building as well as hostel rooms in Huis Visser, Huis Marais & Irene as well as other sites.
All incidents have been reported to the police and case numbers are available for those who are affected.
Additional guards were immediately employed on building sites and we want to assure you that the safety of our students is of utmost importance to us. Affected students are encouraged to please report any losses to their Residence Service coordinator or Resident Head who are in contact with Campus security and the SAPS.
For any queries, please contact:
Centre for Student Communities, in collaboration with Facilities Management