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Learning communities boast student success: researchers receive international recognition

Corwyn Shaughnessy knows how crucial the Eloy Torrez Family Engineering Learning Communities are to student success. Shaughnessy’s first stint at NMSU occurred before the facility was established. 

When Shaughnessy, who has two children, returned to NMSU, he appreciated the resources the learning communities provided such as study space, tutoring, opportunities for collaborative learning, and an understanding of a student’s circumstances, which can be vital to retention and graduation. The facility opened in spring 2018 thanks to generous funding from Eloy Torrez ’70. 

“The extra support it provides is amazing,” says Shaughnessy, who is slated to graduate in December 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology. 

  “Having a Ph.D. explain something to you can sometimes not quite work,” he says. “Having someone who worked their way through it last semester explain it can sometimes work better. Maybe you need to hear it said five or six different ways before you hear the explanation that makes it click for you. Everyone is different, and our backgrounds shape the way we listen.” 

Shaughnessy’s experience illustrates the findings of College of Engineering researchers. Studies conducted by Senior Data Analyst Sashidhar Chintalapati, Dean Lakshmi N. Reddi and Assistant Dean Gabe Garcia produced data supporting the use of several strategies that improve student performance and retention: instructor changes in transition and key courses, course sequencing changes and the establishment of learning communities and leadership training.

Chintalapati and Reddi presented papers on teaching and learning success at the 2022 World Engineering Education Forum and Global Engineering Deans Council conference in Cape Town, South Africa, in fall 2022. 

They also led a panel on “Usage of Data-Informed Online Technologies for Teaching/Learning Success” in June 2023 at the University of Évora in Évora, Portugal. Sherry Kollmann, NMSU associate vice chancellor of digital learning, also was a member of the NMSU delegation. Additionally, the team presented these initiatives at the American Society of Engineering Education conference in Baltimore, Maryland, in June 2023.

Now a learning communities tutor himself, Shaughnessy helps students overcome challenges.   

“Time management is the fundamental cornerstone of a successful college experience,” he says. “In the long run, a few stressful years are worth an amazing career.” 





Top: The Eloy Torrez Family Engineering Learning Communities opened in spring 2018 and provide resources such as study space, tutoring and opportunities for collaborative learning. 

Bottom: Corwyn Shaughnessy (far left) works with students as a learning communities tutor.