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LC Foundations

In the push to improve student retention, it is easy to overlook what research tells us: students persist in their studies if the learning they experience is meaningful, deeply engaging, and relevant to their lives.
‒ A New Era in Learning Community Work

How do we create high-quality learning experiences for ALL students? A New Era in Learning Community Work: Why the Pedagogy of Intentional Integration Matters addresses this question in the context of LC work. This question has a long lineage.

Washington Center newsletters, dating back to 1986, describe the evolution of inventive learning communities focused on improving the quality of students’ learning experiences. While degrees of collaboration and curricular integration varied within LCs, the documents from this era tell a story of educators determined to make a difference for students.

LCs as an Intervention Strategy for Student Success

Sustaining Learning Communities: Moving from Curricular to Education Reform summarizes what we've learned. Framing learning communities as an intervention strategy requires key shifts:

  • From focusing on specific learning community models to conceiving of learning communities as a dynamic intervention characterized by three essential features (cohorts of students, explicit integrative opportunities, and collaboration between student and academic affairs) that can take a variety of forms depending on campus contexts.
  • From creating learning community offerings based on faculty interest to designing learning communities that meet students at critical points in their educational pathways—as they begin college, as they move from precollege to college-level work, as they move into major areas of study.
  • From creating discrete learning community offerings, to designing an overarching learning community program that can support multiple kinds of LC offerings—links, clusters, and/or living learning communities—that share a purpose and are aligned with institutional efforts to improve students’ experiences of learning in and out of the classroom.

New era learning community programs move the best of our collective efforts forward. The through-line is our commitment to providing high quality educational experiences to all students.