Learning Communities

What is a learning community?

A learning community consists of a group of students who are enrolled in the same courses with the same instructors. Learning communities provide new curricular structures that link courses so that students have opportunities for deeper understanding and integration of the material they are learning, and more interaction with one another and their teachers as fellow participants in the learning experience.

What are the benefits of a learning community?

Students’ benefit by finding greater coherence in what they are learning since learning communities encourage continuity and integration. Research suggests that students learn more from courses that are integrated in a community than they do in isolated courses. In a learning community, concepts and skills are consciously reinforced within the context of each course. Collaborative learning is encouraged.

Moreover, special services related to tutoring, advising and counseling are woven into the community. As a result, students begin to understand the relationships between course contents and to apply new concepts to skills. As students improve their skills, learning communities also help them build a sense of group identity. Belonging to a community of learners helps students feel that they are an important part of the fabric of the academic community. They form learning partnerships and support systems with each other, with faculty and with student support staff.

What is an integrated learning community?

In an integrated learning community, two or more courses are joined as if they were one larger class. Classes are co-taught within the larger shared schedule of hours. Integrated learning communities usually use a theme, which allows for easier integration of the courses’ curricula. The faculty receive full credit for both courses.

What is a linked learning community?

In a linked learning community the courses are separate, but faculty spend one hour per week in each other’s class.  Faculty receive credit for that hour.

What is a paired learning community?

In a  paired learning community, two or more classes have the same cohort of students and faculty plan one or more integrated assignments. Often, there is a unifying theme for the classes. There is a small stipend for curricular development.

What are the professional development opportunities?

Teaching with a faculty member in another discipline offers a rich professional development opportunity. The Center for Professional Development provides support, and there is the opportunity to attend Learning Community conferences and informational sessions.

For more information, please send an email to learningcommunities@necc.mass.edu

You can also visit the NECC student Learning Communities site.

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