Scaling Up Learning Communities: The Experience of Six Community Colleges

Mary G. Visher, Emily Schneider, Heather Wathington, Herbert Collado, National Center for Postsecondary Research, Oct 11, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm preparing for a talk on Thursday on learning communities and encountered this excellent study from 2010. This is a fairly large study, as the title suggests, and the report (153 page PDF) provides a comprehensive overview, including these observations:

  • A paid coordinator and committed college leaders were essential to managing and scaling up learning communities.
  • As coordinators clarified expectations and offered support, faculty responded by changing their teaching practices.
  • Curricular integration remained difficult to implement widely and deeply.
  • Student cohorts led to strong relationships among students, creating both personal and academic support networks.

Additionally, the authors recommend curricular integration supporting active and collaborative learning, including collaboration with faculty and student services, with the objective of promoting student engagement.

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