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ERIC Number: EJ873938
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
ISSN: ISSN-1067-1803
Making the Stranger's Path Familiar: Environmental Communication that Turns Access into Participation
Adelman, Clifford
Community College Journal, v75 n5 p18-21 Apr-May 2005
Visitors to the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., enter the area through ceremonial openings: from the pathway around the reflecting pond of the Jefferson Memorial, or across a small shaded plaza reached from a roadway parallel to the Potomac River. The FDR Memorial itself cannot be seen at the start of either of these paths. It is out there across the polo fields and beyond a line of trees, without elevation. No matter which path one takes, the memorial draws the visitor in to a learning experience. Before he designed this memorial, Lawrence Halprin studied the way people moved (paths, pace) in reaction to different configurations of open space, planters, light, falling water, text on walls, setbacks, sculptures, seating, clocks, etc., and combined that study with the particulars of history that had a mandatory place in that environment. The result is maximum enlightenment. In this article, the author proposes that the same components of environmental design are instructive metaphors for the academic processes of community colleges. They constitute a communication system with the potential for turning mere access into more meaningful participation. Students evidence varying degrees of skill in reading the academic and supportive service features of community colleges, but the features themselves may not be clearly marked, and students later find themselves at barriers or lost in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Students approach the institution from afar: it is behind the trees, without elevation. It is the job of community colleges to provide advanced notice of the landmarks, boundaries, and distinctive thoroughfares students will encounter. Community colleges present unique settings in which to observe these environmental signs because students are coming to town along many paths, and instruction and its delivery take place in more complex configurations than is the case in most four-year colleges. But to illustrate the ways in which this communication can be enhanced or redesigned so as to facilitate student attainment, the most common path will be used, that followed by the traditional-age student from secondary school.
American Association of Community Colleges. One Dupont Circle NW Suite 410, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-728-0200; Fax: 202-833-2467; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia; Washington