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ERIC Number: ED563290
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 9
Mixed Results from Six Large Randomized Controlled Trials of Learning Communities in Community Colleges
Mayer, Alexander K.; Weiss, Michael J.; Visher, Mary G.; Sommo, Colleen; Rudd, Timothy; Cullinan, Dan; Weissman, Evan; Wathington, Heather D.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
This paper presents research that explores similarities and differences across six randomized controlled trials of learning communities in community colleges that were conducted by MDRC and the National Center for Postsecondary Research. Five of these studies track students' progress in the program semester and two follow-up semesters, and one study follows students for six years. These studies provide the most extensive evidence available on the promise and limitations of learning communities for improving the academic outcomes of students in community colleges. The present research examines several competing explanations for mixed findings and draws lessons to inform further research in the field. The following six community colleges were involved in the studies: (1) Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) in suburban Maryland; (2) Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida; (3) Houston Community College in Houston, Texas; (4) Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York; (5) Merced College in Merced, California; and (6) Queensborough Community College in Queens, New York. The learning communities each lasted for one semester, and consisted of four key components, although there was variation in their emphasis and implementation: (1) linked courses and student cohorts; (2) faculty collaboration; (3) instructional practices; and (4) student supports. More than 7,000 students were randomly assigned to either the program group or the control group. The researchers used several data sources: (1) the baseline information form; (2) operational site visits, field research, and instructor survey; and (3) student records. Results from the studies suggest the following: (1) One-semester learning communities can have a long-term impact and even boost graduation, as shown in the study of the Kingsborough program; and (2) The combined results of all six trials suggest that, on average, learning communities for developmental education students produce only a modest impact on credits earned in the targeted subject of English or mathematics. The research provides good tests of learning communities as they appear to be typically enacted, but not a test of the "ideal" or "advanced" learning communities described in the literature. Tables and figures are appended. [This report was written with Kelley Fong, Hannah Fresques, and Jedediah Teres.]
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: California; Florida; Maryland; New York; Texas