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ERIC Number: EJ858353
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1086-4822
Assessment Matters: The Strength of Mixed Research Methods for the Assessment of Learning Communities
Commander, Nannette Evans; Ward, Teresa
About Campus, v14 n3 p25-28 Jul-Aug 2009
Many campuses are adopting freshman learning communities (FLCs) in order to boost retention. FLCs take many forms, but they typically involve enrolling small groups of students in two or more classes together during their first semester in order to create community and promote academic and social involvement. At Georgia State University, a large public research university located in an urban area in the southeast, nine years of quantitative data on first-year student cohorts clearly demonstrate that FLC participants do better academically than non-FLC members. Learning communities are increasingly popular because they work. Evidence suggests that learning communities succeed across a range of institutional types and students. But while documented outcomes of learning communities are valuable, the authors believe that the body of research on learning communities is limited by its focus on quantitative indicators. In this article, the authors argue that assessment efforts should examine the impact of learning communities in greater depth and suggest that both qualitative and quantitative methods should be used for studies to provide a more complete picture of the learning community experience. Using a mixed-methods research study allows researchers to look at the learning community experience much more comprehensively than relying on only one research method. This combination of qualitative and quantitative data provides evidence that learning communities are worth the investment in the long run. In addition, a mixed-methods research frame allows researchers to use data that may already be available at their institution to deepen understanding of the first-year experience.
Jossey-Bass. Available from John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774. Tel: 800-825-7550; Tel: 201-748-6645; Fax: 201-748-6021; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Researchers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Georgia
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Survey of Student Engagement