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ERIC Number: ED548424
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 135
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2674-2132-6
Testing the Efficacy of Learning Communities for Underprepared First-Semester College Students
Henriques, David I.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Widener University
The purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of learning communities for underprepared first-year students. The topic was examined by synthesizing data collected on a cohort of first-year college students participating in a "developmental" (special admittance) program. A quasi-experimental design evaluated the effectiveness of learning communities on academic performance (credits earned and GPA), retention (2nd semester and 2nd year returns) and four and six-year graduation rates on underprepared first-year students who were enrolled in learning communities compared to students not enrolled in a learning community. All participants received special services including mentoring, supplemental instruction (SI), and had required study hours. Since the university scheduled all first-year students, approximately 50% were placed into a learning community of two paired/linked courses. Each learning community was anchored by a three-credit, first-year experience course. The course was required of all students in this special admittance program. Data were drawn from a larger, university wide assessment of learning communities. Data were provided for sample comparisons, demographic data analysis, and academic performance analysis. As universities, many of which adhere to an access mission or have an open admissions policy, look for ways to reduce costs, improve fiscal health, and improve retention and graduation rates, the identification of successful pedagogical models is critical. Two frequently utilized pedagogical models are the first-year seminar and learning communities. As such, the results of this study can provide a cost effective strategy for dealing with academically underprepared students. Findings from this study indicate that the introduction of learning communities improved the academic performance, retention, persistence, and graduation rates so that at-risk students performed, persisted, and graduated at a rate similar to the rates found in the literature for non-at-risk populations. Mean semester GPA, annual GPA, 2nd semester retention, 3rd semester retention, and both four and six-year graduation rates were higher in the learning community group. This research provides the developmental framework for institutions implementing a learning community model for at-risk students and supports efforts by educators to refine "best practices" for at-risk students. These findings will encourage universities with programs for at-risk students to incorporate learning communities. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
What Works Clearinghouse Reviewed: Does Not Meet Evidence Standards
IES Cited: ED563392