Learning Communities Show Promise in Improving Student Success

One-semester learning communities can have long-term benefits for community college students and can even boost graduation rates, according to recently released studies from MDRC and the National Center for Postsecondary Research.

After six years, a one-semester learning community program at Kingsborough Community College(KCC) in New York boosted graduation rates by 4.6 percent, the study reported. That initiative was also found to be cost effective: The cost per degree earned was lower for students in that program than it was for KCC students not in the program.

Modest impact

Despite those figures, the results of a companion study evaluating a learning community demonstration project that targeted developmental education students found only a modest impact on credits earned in English or mathematics.

“Implementing learning communities at scale is challenging but possible,” MDRC said. “Learning communities with high levels of curricular integration are particularly hard to establish and maintain.”

Learning communities are aimed at boosting persistence by grouping small cohorts of students together in two or more thematically linked courses, usually for a single semester, while they are also given additional academic support. By giving students a chance to form stronger relationships with one another and their instructors, the premise is that they will engage more deeply in learning and thus will be more likely to pass their courses, and ultimately, graduate. (Read more.)

Via Times Staff, The Community College Times.

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