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Student learning communities

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Creating Meaningful Learning Environments with SLCs

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Student learning communities

  1. 1. Creating Meaningful Learning Environments with SLCs Dr. Patrick Blessinger HETL Association & St. John’s University (NYC) Plenary Keynote 6thAnnual University Learning andTeaching Showcase Montclair State University ResearchAcademy May 8, 2015
  2. 2. What are Student Learning Communities (SLCs) and Why areThey Important? • A SLC is any purposely designed curricular program where the same group of students take a common set of courses together, which are connected in same meaningful way or share a common curricular experience (improve curricular coherence). • In short, a SLC is a curricular-based learning-centered peer-to-peer social network (community) that extends beyond the classroom. • SLCs are most common for first-year students. Image by Niall Kennedy, “Community”, CC BY-NC 2.0
  3. 3. What are Student Learning Communities (SLCs) and Why areThey Important? • Create a sense of community: • Membership identity (what core shared values and goals form the group’s identity? Do members have a sense of loyalty to the group that motivates them?) • Influence (to what degree do members actions affect the group’s outcomes – locus of control?) • Personal fulfillment and meaning (are members’ intellectual, emotional, and social needs being met? Are members able to make the curricular connections?) Image by Niall Kennedy, “Community”, CC BY-NC 2.0
  4. 4. What are Student Learning Communities (SLCs) and Why areThey Important? • Course integration may be loosely coupled, with little or no coordination between instructors, or tightly coupled, with instructors collaborating (e.g. via Faculty Learning Communities) on SLC design. • SLCs operate on a continuum - the degree of integration or connectedness indicates the level of collaboration among instructors, staff, and students. • Connected courses may be from different disciplines or the same discipline but they are connected by common theme(s) or overarching set of question(s) or common learning goal(s). Image by Enokson, “Learning Required”, CC BY-NC 2.0
  5. 5. SLC Exemplar https://youtu.be/mVFWVOpYfsA
  6. 6. Main Goals of SLCs • Increase holistic, integrative learning (cognitive, affective, social). • Increase student-student and student- faculty interactions. • Increase academic achievement and motivation in students. • Increase student satisfaction and well- being. • Increase student engagement and retention. Image by India Edu, “Learn”, CC BY-SA 2.0
  7. 7. Three Key Principles of Learning Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999) • People have preconceptions about the way the world works to their learning experiences. • To develop competence in inquiry, people must: • develop deep foundational knowledge, • be able to apply a conceptual framework to that knowledge, and • de able to organize knowledge in such a way that facilitates application of that knowledge. • Metacognitive learning can help people develop strategies for: • taking control of their own learning (self-regulation and personal agency), • define their personal learning goals, and • monitor/assess their own learning progress. Image by KrissyVenosdale, “Learning”,CC BY- NC-ND 2.0
  8. 8. SLC Benefits • Students (and faculty) who participate in SLCs are more engaged and academically motivated. • Students learn to collaborate and work in teams. • Student are more likely to integrate concepts from one course to other courses. • Learning occurs across all domains: cognitive, affective, and social. • Learning becomes more meaningful for students. • Students’ first experiences in college are very important in influencing persistence and retention, and ultimately graduation. Image by Nazareth College, “Embrace the Inner Kid”, CC BY 2.0
  9. 9. SLC Challenges • Students may focus too much on socializing and not enough on the academic tasks. • Personality and scheduling conflicts may arise. • But these phenomena may arise in any group or community.They are not exclusive to SLCs. • If college is a place where students are supposed to learn how to work with and get along with others, then SLCs provide a relatively safe place for them to develop these skills. • SLCs require more maturity from students because the teaching-learning process is more complex. Move from isolated learning to collaborative learning Images by CollegeDegrees360, “College Students”, CC BY-SA 2.0
  10. 10. Key SLC Design Principles Lenning, et al (2013) • Purpose and Goals (aligned with institutional mission, vision, values) • Purpose, intentionality, and sense of identity. • Well defined shared goals and objectives. • Appropriate funding, resources, and leadership. • Collaborative Community • Caring, respectful, open, fair, and celebrative. • Respect for diversity, inclusion, and shared learning. • Cooperation, reciprocity, and team-oriented. • Culture of Learning • Encourage active, engaged, and inquiry-based learning. • Encourage integrative, experiential, and meaningful learning. • Encourage deep learning and higher order thinking and creativity. • Standards and Responsibility • Foster personal agency and self-regulation. • Foster self-discipline and respect for rules and for others. • Foster leadership and negotiation skills. Image by Lynne Hand, “The Ultimate Learning Tool”, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  11. 11. Learning CommunityTypology Lenning, et al (2013) • Learning communities go beyond basic team projects or simple cohorts. • Learning communities focus on the integration of teaching and learning and building community across the curriculum. • Learning experiences moves from isolated, disconnected learning to social, connected learning. • What SLC type and structure is appropriate depends on the purpose and context in which it functions. Image by theunquietlibrarian, “Seeds of Change: A Compass”, CC BY-NC 2.0
  12. 12. Four Main Forms of LCs Adapted from Lenning, et al (2013) • By membership format • SLCs, FLCs, and ILCs • By delivery format • F2F, online, blended • By duration format • long-term, medium-term, short-term • By disciplinary scope format • intra-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, trans- disciplinary • More than 81 different combinations possible. • SLCs are not...just a course project or just another instructional method. Image by Chris Halderman, “Structure”,CC BY- ND 2.0
  13. 13. Multidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary https://youtu.be/y7cN8NW0ZEs
  14. 14. TwoTypes of SLCs by degree of coupling between courses, assignments, etc. Adapted from Lenning, et al (2013) • Curricular (intra-institutional– on-campus). Students, as a group, taking the same courses, which are integrated in some way, within the institution’s curriculum.They integrate coursework jointly.The below forms may be combined in innovative ways. • integrative cohort seminar (seminar determined by the institution wherein specific groups of students – cohort – co-register for same courses but courses not explicitly integrated and faculty teaching the courses do not collaborate on syllabi, assignments, etc. But an integrative seminar is provided for the cohort to help them to make the intellectual connections). • linked course clusters (courses are determined by the institution wherein specific groups of students – cohort – co-register for the course cluster but faculty teaching the courses loosely collaborate on syllabi, assignments, etc. Students are expected to make the connections across courses). • coordinated studies (where students and faculty work together in active learning. Students are required to apply concepts from one course to the other courses. May involve team teaching, common assignments across courses, common themes, common questions, etc). • Co-curricular (extra-institutional – off-campus) • internships • international study • service learning
  15. 15. Key Principles for Collaboration Adapted from Lenning, et al (2013) • Build collaborate partnerships where everyone benefits, where everyone creates meaning from the experience, and where everyone contributes in her/his own way. • One effective way to achieve this is to create advisory boards as a forum for expressing diverse opinions and contributions. • Creating clear and concise policies, procedures, and guidelines/rules is important to establishing a structural framework for working together to achieve common goals. • Build collaborate partnerships between academic affairs and student affairs. • Build collaborate partnerships between institutional research and student assessment. Image by Ron Mader, “CollaborateTool”, CC BY- SA 2.0
  16. 16. Learning Community Planning Framework Create a Project Plan Adapted from Lenning, et al (2013) • ANALYSIS PHASE • Develop a clear purpose for your learning community • How did the idea for a learning community come about? • Why do you want to form a learning community? • What are your main goals for the learning community? • What is your mission (purpose) statement for the learning community? • Conduct a situation analysis (environmental scan) • Who are the key stakeholders impacted by the learning community? • What resources are available to support the learning community? • What challenges might you encounter in forming a learning community?
  17. 17. Learning Community Planning Framework Adapted from Lenning, et al (2013) • DESIGN PHASE • Determine the type(s) of learning communities needed • What type of membership format do you need?: SLC and/or FLC (topic and/or cohort based) • What type of delivery format do you need?: F2F or online or blended • What type of duration format do you need?: Short-term or long-term • What type of disciplinary format do you need?: Intra or inter or trans • How will you select members for your learning community? • What are the specific goals and objectives of the learning community?
  18. 18. Learning Community Planning Framework Adapted from Lenning, et al (2013) • IMPLEMENTATION PHASE • Determine how the learning community will be implemented • How will you build the learning community? • How will you develop a culture of learning? • What are the core values and group norms needed? • What are the key roles and responsibilities of the members? • What resources are needed to be successful? • What legal and ethical issues must be addressed? • What institutional policies must be addressed?
  19. 19. Learning Community Planning Framework Adapted from Lenning, et al (2013) • ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION PHASE • How will student learning (cognitive) be assessed? • Formative and summative • Research-based evidence of learning • Research strategies and methods • Learning Assessment Report • How will student well-being (affective, social) be assessed? • How will the learning community, as a program, be evaluated? • Learning goals and objectives • Program Evaluation Report
  20. 20. Thank you for your time! Learning Communities are 21st Century Learning
  21. 21. References • Anderson, L.W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. NewYork, NY: Longman. • Angelo,T. A. (1997).The campus as a learning community: Seven promising shifts and seven powerful levers. AAHE Bulletin, 49(9), 3-6. • Blessinger, P., Cozza, B., & Cox, M. (2015). Principles of Effective Faculty Learning Communities in Higher Education: A Qualitative Analysis of Faculty Participation. Learning Communities Journal. (manuscript in press). • Blessinger, P. (2015).The future of higher education: towards a democratic theory of higher education. Chapter in P. Blessinger & J.P. Anchan (Eds) Democratizing higher education: International comparative perspectives. • Blessinger, P., & Carfora, J.M. (2014). Innovative approaches in teaching and learning: An introduction to inquiry-based learning for faculty and institutional development. Chapter in P. Blessinger & J.M. Carfora (Eds) Inquiry-based learning for faculty and institutional development: A conceptual and practical resource for educators. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing. • Blessinger, P. (2013). Improving pedagogical performance through learning communities. Proceedings of the International Research and Science Conference. Pedagogical education: Current problems, concepts, theories and practice. St. Petersburg, Russia. RAE IPAE, 2013, 184-193. • Blessinger, P., & Kovbasyuk, O. (May, 2012). Higher education needs to build global learning communities. The Guardian. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/blog/2012/may/23/global-virtual-learning-environments • Bloom, B. S. (Ed). (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives:The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1: cognitive domain. NewYork, NY: McKay.
  22. 22. References • Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). Learning: From speculation to science. In J. Bransford, A. Brown, & R. Cocking (Eds), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school (pp. 39-66).Washington, D.C: National Academic Press. • Boyer Commission of Educating Undergraduates in the Research University. (1998). Reinventing undergraduate education: A blueprint for America’s research universities. Stony Brook, NY: State University of NewYork at Stony Brook. • Brooke, C., & Gruenewald, D. (2003). Building bridges between academic affairs and student affairs: Learning communities at Iowa State University. Paper presented at the North CentralTeaching Symposium. Minneapolis, MN. • Cox, M. D. (2004). Building faculty learning communities: New directions for teaching and learning, no. 97 (pp. 5-23). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. • DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (1998). Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. • Dunlop, L. & Pettitt, M. (2008). Assessing student outcomes in learning communities:Two decades of study at community colleges. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 15(2), 140-149. • Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. • Gabelnick, F., MacGregor, J., Matthews, R. S., & Smith, R. S. (1990). Learning communities: Creating connections among students, faculty, and disciplines: New directions for teaching and learning, no. 41. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  23. 23. References • Huber, M.T., & Hutchins, P. (2005). The advancement of learning: Building the teaching commons. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. • Kouzes, J. M. & Possner, B. Z. (1987). The leadership challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. • Kovbasyuk, O., & Blessinger, P. (2013).The nature and origins of meaning-centered education. Chapter in O. Kovbasyuk & P. Blessinger (Eds) Meaning-centered education: International perspectives and explorations in higher education. NewYork: Routledge Publishing. • Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Whitt, E. J. (2010). Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass. • Lenning, O.T., & Ebbers, L. H. (1999). The powerful potential of learning communities: Improving education for the future. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, vol. 26, no. 6. Washington, D.C.:The George Washington Graduate School of Education and Human Development. • Gabelnick, F., MacGregor, J., Matthews, R. S., & Smith, R. S. (1990). Learning communities: Creating connections among students, faculty, and disciplines: New directions for teaching and learning, no. 41. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass. • Huber, M.T., & Hutchins, P. (2005). The advancement of learning: Building the teaching commons. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. • Kouzes, J. M. & Possner, B. Z. (1987). The leadership challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  24. 24. References • Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Whitt, E. J. (2010). Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass. • Lenning, O.T., & Ebbers, L. H. (1999). The powerful potential of learning communities: Improving education for the future. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, vol. 26, no. 6. Washington, D.C.:The George Washington Graduate School of Education and Human Development. • Mentkowski, M., & Associates. (2000). Learning that lasts: Integrative learning, development, and performance in college and beyond. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. • Mezirow, L. (2003).Transformative learning as discourse. Journal ofTransformative Education, 1(1), 58-63. • Ortquist-Ahrens, L., & Pratt, K. (1999).The role of the facilitator in faculty learning communities: Paving the way for growth, productivity, and collegiality. Learning Communities Journal, 1(1), 29-62. • Shapiro, N. S. & Levine, J. H. (1999). Creating learning communities: A practical guide to winning support, organizing for change, and implementing programs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. • Soven, M., Lehr, D., Naynaha, S., Olson, W. (Eds). (2013). Linked courses for genernal education and integrative learning: A guide for faculty and administrators. Sterling, VA: Stylus. • Zhao, C., & Kuh, G. D. (2004). Adding value: Learning communities and student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 45(2), 115-138.

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