What Are Learning Communities?
In higher education, curricular learning communities are classes that are linked or clustered during an academic term, often around an interdisciplinary theme, and enroll a common cohort of students.
Why Use Learning Communities?
- Restructures students’ time, credit, and learning experiences;
- Build community among students, between students and their teachers, and among faculty members and disciplines.
Three General Types of Learning Communities:
- Linked Courses/Course Clusters - Two or more classes are linked thematically or by content which a cohort of students takes together.
- Coordinated Study - Faculty members team-teach a course that is embedded in an integrated program of study.
- Student Cohorts/Integrative Seminar - Small cohort of students enrolled in a larger class that faculty do not coordinate.
Effective Learning Communities:
- Are usually smaller than most other programs/organizations on campus.
- Have a sense of purpose.
- Help overcome the isolation of faculty members from one another and from their students.
- Help build a sense of group identity and cohesion.
Where Learning Communities Are Found:
- Developmental studies
- Freshmen/First Year initiatives
- Strategies for coherence in general education
- Writing programs: teaching writing in the context of a subject or an interdisciplinary theme
- Study in a minor (Women’s Studies, Environmental Studies)
- Study in the major
- Graduate school programs
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