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Learning Communities: A High Impact Practice Transcending the Traditional Classroom

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Faculty from the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), who have a variety of experiences in teaching Learning Communities, presented what they learned. Two or more classes across disciplines are paired, and a group of students enroll in the paired classes. Professors Miller, Pucino, Jones, and Scott shared the integrated approach typical in learning communities with specific suggestions of strategies related to strengthening collaboration, critical thinking, and reflection through classroom activities, online assignments, Intercultural Dialogues, and service-learning. In addition, they discussed how pairing the college’s required course titled Academic Development: Transitioning to College with other courses such as English Composition, ESOL, and Academic Literacy in a Learning Community format had positive influences on student success. Topics included the importance of High Impact Practices (HIPs), such as service-learning and collaborative assignments, to advance student learning and success both within and beyond the classroom; a description of CCBC’s Learning Community Program; the benefits, for both students and faculty, of participating in a Learning Community; ideas for approaches and activities beyond the traditional classroom that can strengthen student learning; and strategies for how to increase critical thinking and/or collaboration in the classroom.

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Learning Communities: A High Impact Practice Transcending the Traditional Classroom

  1. 1. Learning Communities: A High Impact Practice Transcending the Traditional Classroom THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF BALTIMORE COUNTY Cheryl Scott/English (cscott2@ccbcmd.edu) Deborah Jones/Academic Development (djones13@ccbcmd.edu) Amy Pucino/Sociology (apucino@ccbcmd.edu) Stacie Miller/ESOL (smiller@ccbcmd.edu) Presented at: the 29th Annual AFACCT Conference, Cecil College Friday, January 11, 2019, Session 7.12, 2:55 p.m. – 3:55 p.m
  2. 2. Executive Summary This PPT presentation was offered by faculty from The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) who have a variety of experiences in teaching Learning Communities. In Learning Communities at CCBC, two or more classes across disciplines are paired, and a group of students enroll in the paired classes. Professors Miller, Pucino, Jones, and Scott shared the integrated approach typical in learning communities with specific suggestions of strategies related to strengthening collaboration, critical thinking, and reflection through classroom activities, online assignments, Intercultural Dialogues, and service-learning. In addition, they discussed how pairing the college’s required course titled Academic Development: Transitioning to College with other courses such as English Composition, ESOL, and Academic Literacy in a Learning Community format has had positive influences on student success. Some major topics in this presentation included the importance of High Impact Practices (HIPs), such as service-learning and collaborative assignments, to advance student learning and success both within and beyond the classroom; a description of CCBC’s Learning Community Program; the benefits, for both students and faculty, of participating in a Learning Community; ideas for approaches and activities beyond the traditional classroom that can strengthen student learning; and strategies for how to increase critical thinking and/or collaboration in the classroom.
  3. 3. Overview of Presentation During this presentation, we will discuss: ◦ General Concepts of Learning Communities ◦ Learning Communities and Service Learning ◦ Learning Communities and Intercultural Dialogues ◦ Pairing Learning Communities with Academic Development courses ◦ Pairing Learning Communities with Blended Courses ◦ Q/A
  4. 4. What is a Learning Community? An integrated approach to teaching and learning. In a learning community, two or more classes are “paired,” and a group of students enrolls in both of the paired courses. Faculty work together to integrate course content and materials in order to emphasize the connections between the subject areas. Because students take the same classes together, strong bonds form as they study together, support each other, and learn from one another. A High Impact Practice (HIP) that increases student engagement, student success, and student retention (George Kuh, AAC&U, 2008).
  5. 5. CCBC’s Learning Communities: Pair high enrollment courses that can be contextualized with content courses.  General Education:  CMNS Studies 101/ENGL 101  ENGL 101/PSYC 101  ENGL 101/ACDV 101  ACDV 101/ENGL 101 Developmental: ◦ ACLT052/ACDV 101  Honors:  ENGL 101/PSYC 101  ENGL 102/ARSC121  ACDV 101/ENGL 101 ESOL:  ESOL 052/CMNS 101  ESOL 054/SOCL 101  ESOL 044 (blended)/ACDV 101
  6. 6. Possible Future Learning Communities at CCBC •Expanding Academic Development (ACDV 101) pairings •Academic Literacy 052/CMNS 101 ENGL 101/Ethics Philosophy Course •MATH 243 (Discrete Mathematics) and Computer Science 211 (Advanced Programming)
  7. 7. Learning Community Objectives: Acquire deeper understanding of both subjects Understand relationships between the different subjects Think critically and analytically Deal with complex problems that have multiple perspectives Be personally accountable for learning Feel supported by teachers and peers Work effectively with others Learn effectively on one’s own
  8. 8. What is Integrative Learning? “Capacity to integrate knowledge and modes of thinking from two or more disciplines in order to produce a cognitive advancement - to explain phenomena, fashionproducts, solve problems, in ways that would have been unviable through a single disciplinary means.” (Veronica Boix- Mansilla). Builds the capacity to use knowledge rather than just accumulate knowledge.
  9. 9. Strategies for Integration •Design integrative assignments that meet course objectives from both courses. •Revise syllabi to reflect connections between the courses and course content. •Use fiction and nonfiction readings with common themes. Create common themes (ex. “Cultural & Global Issues.”)  Visit each others’ classes periodically to observe or participate in class activities.  Communicate weekly with each other to plan activities and discuss student behaviors, progress.  Meet with each student for midterm conferences as a team.  Participate in research efforts.
  10. 10. Benefits: Students CCBC’s LEARNING COMMUNITIES are HIP! •Learning communities can have a ‘high-impact’ on student outcomes through the ‘integration of learning across courses and disciplines (LEAP). •Offers an integrated learning experience: • Assignments • Syllabi • Policies •Helps understanding of relationship between different subjects and disciplines •Provides opportunities to think critically and analytically. •Encourages personal accountability for learning. •Provides enriched and supportive learning experience: • Work collaboratively with others • Forms close bonds with faculty and peers
  11. 11. Benefits: Faculty • Creates Partnerships. • Develops self-awareness of one’s own teaching. • Places more attention on delivery systems. • Uses more collaborative learning techniques. • Develops more compassion for students. • Encourages faculty to be more flexible. • Encourages students to take more responsibility for learning. • Offers opportunity for professional development. • Stipends for extra responsibility and time spent on professional development.
  12. 12. Learning Communities are a High-Impact Practice (HIP) •Teaching and learning practices have been shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds, especially historically underserved students, who often do not have equitable access to high-impact learning. Examples include: • Learning Communities • Diversity/Global Learning • Undergraduate Research • Service Learning • Writing-Intensive Courses • First-Year Experiences
  13. 13. SERVICE-LEARNING IN LEARNING COMMUNITIES COMBINING 2 HIPS!
  14. 14. What is Service-Learning? Service-learning incorporates community work into the curriculum, giving students real- world learning experiences that enhance their academic learning while providing a tangible benefit for the community. ~Campus Compact
  15. 15. HIPs are teaching/learning practices that help students: ◦ build meaningful relationships ◦ apply what they are learning to settings beyond the classroom ◦ engage in reflection ◦ and challenge themselves Important considerations regarding HIPs ◦ HIPs have been shown to increase student engagement and better student chances of completion/matriculation ◦ Think of service-learning as a “text” that can be shared across both classes in the learning community. Service-Learning & Learning Communities are considered High Impact Practices (HIPs)! Source: Kuh, G.D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.
  16. 16. Honors Learning Community (fully Integrated) ARSC 121: American Pluralism, the Search for Justice ENGL 102: College Composition II, Honors This learning community allows you to fulfill a diversity requirement in addition to two general education requirements—one in Humanities and the other in Social Sciences. In this community, you will read, write, and complete research related to race, class, and gender issues. The contents of both courses are integrated so that the skills and subjects taught in one course relate to and reinforce those taught in the other course.
  17. 17. Course Descriptions ARSC 121 is an exploration of identity, especially focused on race, gender, class, and sexuality. We will explore the politics, social structures, institutions, assumptions, and power systems that shape our identities and the effects these identities have on our lives and on the lives of people around us. We will search for multicultural American justice for all by looking at what is unjust and thinking about why and how we might make it better. Our goal throughout the semester will be to talk about race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, religion, and other aspects of our identities by engaging and questioning readings and then adding our own voices, thoughts, experiences, and impressions. ENGL 102 increases the writing and thinking skills developed in English 101; applies critical thinking and writing skills to a variety of academic assignments, including analyzing multiple and varied complex texts, furthering arguments and ideas, conduction research and sophisticated source use.
  18. 18. Integrated Materials Texts: • Race, Class, and Gender in the United States, 9th Ed. Paula Rothenberg. • The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison. • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Barbara Ehrenreich. Films/Videos: • Ethnic Notions • Inequality for All • Miss Representation
  19. 19. Integrated Assignments Essays/Papers (graded by both instructors) BB Discussion Forum based on Readings Service Learning Project: ◦ Site Suggestions ◦ Requirements for Service Learning ◦ Timeline ◦ Reflection Essay ◦ Presentations
  20. 20. Intercultural Dialogues and Learning Communities
  21. 21. INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUES  International/ESOL Students visit classes in various disciplines or speak at campus events.  This program facilitates an open exchange between individuals with different cultural backgrounds.  Students enrolled in the courses are able to ask the international students questions.
  22. 22. Advantages of Intercultural Dialogs ◦ Students learn the meaning of culture, ◦ build meaningful relationships, ◦ engage in reflection, ◦ & challenge themselves to be more culturally relative rather than ethnocentric
  23. 23. Intercultural Dialog Topics Family Life course Communication Language Discipline/Children’s behavior Religion Health Food Clothing History Celebrations Education Work/play Time/place Art/music Aspirations
  24. 24. Intercultural Dialog Assignment • Students first reflected on their own culture with prompts • Students from ESOL Reading/Introduction to Sociology class engaged in intercultural dialogs with Race and Culture class • Students wrote reflections on their experience
  25. 25. Intercultural Dialogues: Comments from Student Presenters “I really appreciate this opportunity that we were given, it gave me a chance to meet new students that I might have never gotten a chance to interact with…the cultural dialogue helps participant better understand the reasons behind some customs and values for a culture.” “I would suggest it occurs time to time and also introduce to other institutions, because it creates a medium for students/individuals of different cultural background to share, understand, learn, and have broad knowledge of other student/people culture, beliefs and norms.”
  26. 26. Learning Communities and Academic Development Courses
  27. 27. Academic Development (ACDV 101) Classes ACDV 101/Transitioning to College • Another high-impact practice • A one-credit, first-year experience class • Required for most students • Purpose: to help students navigate CCBC, so they will know where to find the services and resources that will make them successful. Specifically, students learn how to: • access technology and academic support • develop new skills • explore student life activities and out-of-the-classroom • connect with other students who share similar • pursue their personal and academic goals
  28. 28. The ACLT/ACDV Learning Community The ACLT/ACDV learning community helps students improve their reading and writing skills while fulfilling developmental reading and developmental English requirements. Students will fulfill the ACDV requirement using the materials and assignments from the ACLT 052 course as they develop and strengthen the academic skills needed to become successful college students.
  29. 29. ACLT/ACDV Learning Community Highlights Overlapping concepts & skills Communication Collaboration Classroom visits Support Interventions Mid-semester conferences Portfolio/capstone projects
  30. 30. Blackboard (ACLT/ACDV Sites) Syllabus Learning materials Assignments Assessments Bb messages/email Grades Attendance
  31. 31. Integrated Assignment Example LEARNING STYLES: ME AS A LEARNER PRESENTATIONS VARK Learning Style Assessment Fixed vs. Growth Mindset Group Discussion: How learning styles apply to different classroom scenarios Personal Mission Statements Power point presentations to classroom and teaching partner including how you learn past, present, future, VARK scores and definitions Personal Examples demonstrating why students know their individual learning styles LEARNING STRATEGIES EDUCATIONAL ESSAY Educational Essay integrating elements from both courses including: Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset Learning strategies from VARK Reading, writing, and talking about issues pertaining to the theme of education. How can college students make the most of their learning? How can students become effective learners despite significant life stresses? Group discussions and blog relating to successful learning
  32. 32. Blended ESOL 044 (Advanced Reading) •90-110 minutes of Face-to-Face contact; the rest is online (videos, Discussion Boards, online journals, online group work) Began on CCBC’s Essex campus in Spring 2016 Challenges included:  ESOL students not knowing technology  Difficulties with time management/ challenges balancing work and family responsibilities with additional online, independent work  Cultural obstacles – students’ belief that the teacher is the authority whom they should learn from/discomfort with learning on their own  In addition to the technology, students were required to read a novel in ESOL 044 that they found difficult
  33. 33. Solution: Create a LC combining ACDV 101 and the Blended ESOL 044 Students learn skills/strategies in ACDV 101 that they can immediately apply to the blended ESOL 044, including: ◦ Use of LMS (Blackboard) and ◦ Reading Strategies ◦ Time management in ACDV 101 = better able to manage the independent learning in a blended class ◦ Test- taking strategies in ACDV 101 is covered the week before the ESOL 044 midterm exam
  34. 34. Contact Information for Speakers Cheryl Scott: cscott2@ccbcmd.edu Amy Pucino: apucino@ccbcmd.edu Deborah Jones: djones13@ccbcmd.edu Stacie Miller: smiller@ccbcmd.edu

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