ERIC Number: ED457918
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-May-5
The Efficacy of Learning Communities at Two Community Colleges.
Minkler, James E.
This study examined learning communities at two community colleges, North Idaho College (NIC) and Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) (Washington). Recent emphasis on learning outcomes and transforming the curriculum to be more learning centered has often come into direct conflict with operating under tight budget constraints. Learning communities have been shown to be more costly than stand-alone classes at one of these community colleges. This study analyzed the effectiveness of learning communities versus stand-alone courses taught by the same instructor. Final grades and withdrawal rates were compared in the two types of curricular design (n=3,290). Using paired samples t-tests, no significant difference was found between learning communities and stand-alone courses in these areas. However, results from student evaluations of the instructor, based on a learning community survey (n=222), focus group interviews with learning community students, and interviews with instructors who taught both learning community and stand-alone classes revealed a very strong preference for the learning experienced in learning communities. This proved higher for second-year nontraditional students than it did for first-year traditional students. Women slightly preferred learning communities more than men did. The researcher concludes that learning communities are no panacea for all learners, yet the quality of the learning and teaching experience does suggest inclusion in the curricula at these two colleges. Appendices include final grade roster analysis, the student survey, and interview questions for instructors of paired courses. (Contains 84 references and 77 graphs.) (EMH)
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A