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Designing Learning Communities to Fit the Needs of Your Campus Mr. Matthew B. Fuller, M.S. Program Coordinator for Institutional Assessment Texas A&M University.

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Presentation on theme: "Designing Learning Communities to Fit the Needs of Your Campus Mr. Matthew B. Fuller, M.S. Program Coordinator for Institutional Assessment Texas A&M University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Designing Learning Communities to Fit the Needs of Your Campus Mr. Matthew B. Fuller, M.S. Program Coordinator for Institutional Assessment Texas A&M University

2 Overview  What are LC’s?  Why are LC’s the answer?  How do we start an LC on our campus?  How do we conceptualize assessment of LCs?

3 Outcomes  After participating in this webinar, faculty and staff experts will be able to: Discuss aspects of institutional culture, history, and other items which influence learning community delivery and assessment Articulate the functional aspects of a learning community

4 Outcomes (con’t)  After participating in this webinar, faculty and staff experts will be able to: Identify the aspects of a high quality learning community which will support your vision for student learning Draft a plan for designing, delivering and assessing learning community programs

5 Ask Yourself These Questions  What are “learning communities” on your campus?  What are learning communities intended to do for your students?  What is the hottest curricular/student learning topic on your campus right now?

6 Report out on question 3 What is the hottest curricular/student learning topic on your campus right now?

7 A little background…  Learning communities at this point in American Higher education have various “settings,” or typical uses.  They are often “in response” to a problem or hot topic…  And/or, they are the result of faculty and staff expert synergy.  There is no one lockstep, recipe knowledge to starting Learning Communities on your campus

8 Some examples:  Often LC’s can be over loaded with a ton of “other effects.”  On many campuses learning communities are designed to do something related to student learning  But after a few semesters folks are running (or “asked” to run) important reports on: Retention and recruitment efforts and results Proving the success of LC students vs. non LC students Progress toward degree or general education completion Co-curricular Development Curricular cohesion Semester credit hours Hours spent studying Assignments undertaken Faculty to student ratios Minority recruitment projects And much more

9 What have LC’s been?  Not a new concept Historic faculty roots Dewy’s and Meiklejohn’s influences “Educational Setting” shifts  Shift in educational objectives  Shift in educational access Much attention lately to the term “Learning Community.”  Smith, MacGregor, Matthews, and Gablenick (2004), p )

10 What is a Learning Community?  Often many people get bogged down with “What is a Learning Community?”  Some answers include: An integrated approach to teaching and learning (and living) A cultural shift for [our campus] An effort/initiative A reform effort A way to infuse community into the classroom A new way of teaching An add on or administrative mandate

11 An Operational Definition  LC’s can be a unique approach to pedagogy which allows for: Smaller class sizes or the feel of small class sizes, Linked courses/ interdisciplinary partnerships, Clusters/ co-horts of students (for community) Co-curricular integration,  Residence Hall Clustering, INTENTIONAL DEVELOPMENTAL OR LEARNING OUTCOMES, Academic efforts to build “community,” using some sort of collaborative learning. And/or centered on a central idea, theme, or disciplinary foundation.

12 Any other components? Report out using Q & A

13 Above all else…  Learning Communities are expert (faculty AND staff) driven. Leads to some difficulty to sell to faculty and staff and difficulty in institutionalization Tenure, promotion, salary raises, or even salary (at all). Incentives

14 Step 1: Conceptual Framework  Set a group of faculty and staff experts to the task of making a conceptual framework for Learning Communities Answer the questions:  What are Learning Communities on our campus?  What should Learning Community students be able to do after their involvement in the LC?”  What should Learning Community programs seek to achieve?  Focus on student learning  See %20%20Learning%20Communities.doc for an example.http://assessment.tamu.edu/Conceptual%20Rationale%20- %20%20Learning%20Communities.doc

15 Thoughts on Conceptual Framework Drafting  Inclusive involvement Faculty leadership is a must  Focus on breadth and flexibility Anyone on your campus should “find themselves,” in this document. Detail drilling is not necessary  Be open to varying language  Continual feedback  Working draft affirmation and promotion

16 Change Levers  Consider the relation of LCs to change levers Institutional Mission Strategic Planning Process and Documents Periodic Review of Department, College, and Campuses Collaboration between Departments and Colleges External Reviews  From Shapiro, N.S. and Levine, J.H. (1999)

17 Preemptor on Assessment of LC’s  Assessment is vital to a strong, sustainable LC program Proof of learning Support for funding Competing for other initiatives Supports sound pedagogy Students learning from the assessment process  Consider inclusion in LC Conceptual Framework

18 Why are Outcomes/Assessment so important to LCs?  Realize that outcomes are important in all pedagogy and most people are engaging in assessment, but they are not necessarily calling it “assessment.”  To build any cohesive curriculum, outcomes and some form of assessment and documentation is necessary to represent the curriculum  So, in an environment which promotes integration, linkages, and interdisciplinary collaboration, being able to coordinate classes and programs via learning outcomes.  Beyond providing the learning you intend for students, outcomes assist in organizing the learning experiences for the entire learning community.

19 Question and Answer  Question and answer period with the facilitator  Send the facilitator a question via Q & A message

20  “We should be concerned with the transferal of student learning and less with the transferal of student credits.” ~ Marcia Mentkowski, February 24, 2006 TAMU Assessment Conference

21 Why Are LC’s “the answer?”  Why Learning Communities? Why now? Article by K. Patricia Cross in About Campus 3.3 July/August pp  Three main reasons: Because LC’s fit into the changing philosophy of knowledge Because LC’s fit with what research tells us about learning Because LC’s work

22 “The answer” in more detail  Changing philosophy of knowledge  Shifting pedagogies toward Collaborative learning  A shift from “ shift from discovering knowledge that lies in reality ‘out there’ to creating knowledge that lies within human interchange.” (Cross, p. 7).  Knowledge Espousal vs. Knowledge Interchanges

23 The problems we face…  “As John Kemmeny, former president of Dartmouth and Chairman of President Carter's Commission investigating the Three Mile Island disaster said, ‘We desperately need individuals who can pull together knowledge from a wide variety of fields and integrate it in one mind. We are in an age where we are facing problems that no one discipline can solve. What we'd like our best students to be able to do is to walk in on a problem, a problem they know nothing at all about, and by working hard, in six months' time become fairly expert at it.’”  Hill (1985) from ationale1.pdf ationale1.pdf

24 More on the changing philosophy of knowledge  Diversity Wealth of research on learning styles Gender differences in learning preference Access to programs and higher education (Anderson, J. (1992))  Howe’s Millennials Going to College  “Mellennial Students are attracted to…long traditions…teamwork…and a tight sense of community. They are risk-averse, and they like to work with the best and latest high-technology gadgets.”  From: The Council of Independent Colleges 2003 President’s Institute: Neil Howe Keynote. Found online at: ve/winterspring2003/PI2003_millennial.html ve/winterspring2003/PI2003_millennial.html

25 “The answer” con’t  National Survey of Student Engagement  Research about learning  YFCY – HERI findings.html for summary of findings. findings.html  Comparative Studies

26 Survey Says…  National and Localized Research on Learning and LCs. “…students who have frequent contact with faculty members in and out of class during their college years are more satisfied with their educational experiences, are less likely to drop out, and perceive themselves to have learned more than students who have less faculty contact.” (Cross, 1998) I.E. National Survey of Student Engagement, YFCY, CIRP, ect.

27 Litany of Reports  From Shapiro, N. and Levine, J. H. (1999). Creating learning communities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers Smith, P (2004). The quiet crisis: How higher education is failing America. Bolton, MA: Anker, 2004 Wingspread Group in Higher Education. (1993). An American Imperative: Higher Expectations for Higher Education. Racine, WC.: Johnson Foundation, Boyer, E.L. (1987). College: The undergraduate experience in America. New York: HarperCollins, Astin, A.W. (1993). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Coles, R. (1993). The Call of Service: A witness to Idealism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

28 Work Time  Using your worksheet: Work through the first page

29 Step 2: Program Development  This is (and should be) an ongoing process.  Institution specific. Lets walk through this together

30 Questions to consider  In target student population: What other initiatives are in place for these students? What are campus relations with this program or these faculty? Administrators whom can support the LC program?

31 Questions (con’t)  Criteria for admission may become more apparent after goals and outcomes are outlined…  Or, they may be readily apparent from the target student population.  Setting may have to do with semester/trimester calendar, or the presence of other large programs on campus.  “Contributors” helps document who was involved

32 Questions (con’t)  Thematic emphasis – in a short statement answer the question – “What is this LC supposed to be about?”  Useful in marketing Craft an exciting statement Meaningful to students and experts Related to student learning No need to get too detailed

33 Some thematic emphasis/mission examples  To teach students the foundations of leadership in the 21 st century  Our mission is to create strong communicators  Taking you higher than you ever thought possible  Serve. Lead. Make a difference.  Live. Learn. Lead.

34 Goals  Think in terms of student learning first  Program goals can be created that support these learning goals  Goals can be broad general statements about what general areas you want students to learn about and/or be able to apply.  Should emanate from or even be very similar to the thematic emphasis/mission

35 LC Goals  Make your LC goals the things that really get your blood going.  Sometimes they might be the things that get your Provost’s, President’s, or a granting agency blood going.

36 Some examples of Learning Goals  Learning Communities at Northeastsouthwestern University will instill an ethic of service learning in students.  Weightugo College will develop the leaders in senior students.  The Pillar Program supports minority student needs in college (by doing X,Y,Z).

37 Question and Answer  Pick just one goal area that you would like your potential LCs to focus on.  Fill out or adjust your matrix (second page).  Ask questions.

38 Thinking of this goal  Start thinking about: Timing of delivery (freshman, transfer, senior, entire college career)? Setting (traditional classroom, lab, online, residence hall, student organization, in the community, all of the above) Delivery method (i.e. linked courses, co- curricular integration, Small classes.

39 Step 3: Draft Learning Outcomes

40 Intentional Developmental or Learning Outcomes  What are developmental or learning outcomes? Statements about what the students will be able to do following their experience with your LC. They are the end result of your doing as seen in student abilities. They are not what you are going to do to the students but what the students will be able to do after their experience with your LC program.  Bresciani, Simpson, Osters, Phillips, and Fuller (2006).

41 Why are Outcomes so important to LCs?  Realize that outcomes are important in all pedagogy and most people are engaging in assessment, but they are not necessarily calling it “assessment.”  To build any cohesive curriculum, outcomes and some form of assessment and documentation is necessary to represent the curriculum  So, in an environment which promotes integration, linkages, and interdisciplinary collaboration, being able to coordinate classes and programs via learning outcomes.

42 Writing Learning Outcomes  Describe what students are expected to do in terms of knowledge, skills, and attitudes upon completion of a learning community experience, their first year of college, or even an afternoon program  Describe what we expect students to demonstrate, represent, produce by the time they complete a learning community experience, their first year of college, ect.  Answer the questions: What should students know and what should they be able to do with what they know by the time they complete this LC or their college experience? How will you know that the students have learned what you want them to learn? What does it look like? How will you identify the learning?  From: Bresciani, Simpson, Osters, Phillips, and Fuller (2006).

43 Writing Outcomes – con’t  Regardless of whether your goals are top down – the outcome is where you operationalize the goal. Therefore, the outcome or end result of the doing allows you to “personalize” the goal to your own program, academic discipline, teaching philosophy, or disciplinary rhetoric.  From: Bresciani, Simpson, Osters, Phillips, and Fuller (2006).

44 High quality outcomes can often consist of four parts  Action Verb  Criteria for Success (can be outlined in a rubric or other fashion)  Delivery method  Subject

45 Writing Learning Outcomes – con’t  When writing learning outcomes, focus on the end result of the learning community experience. Use simple, specific action verbs to describe what the students are expected to demonstrate upon completion of the Learning Community.  From: Bresciani, Simpson, Osters, Phillips, and Fuller (2006).

46 Active verbs  Easy to identify Identifiable vs. Measurable  Can you see a student doing this in your mind’s eye? Or  Could the student/staff draw a picture of what the student is doing based off of your outcome?  Make a conscious decision about the verb with your end result in mind (and a little bit of the measurement method in mind).

47 Writing Learning Outcomes – Bloom’s taxonomy s/teachers_blooms.html html Use terms like: construct, locate, dissect, categorize, compose, invent, judge, debate, prioritize.  From: Bresciani, Simpson, Osters, Phillips, and Fuller (2006).

48 Our Example…  After completing the Diversity in Mass Media Learning Community, students will be able to describe how media communications have influenced social views of African American Women throughout 3 major periods of history.

49 In more detail  After completing the Diversity in Mass Media Learning Community, (Learning Experience)  Students will be able to (Subject and some learning experience)  describe how media communications have influenced social views of African American Women (Verb)  throughout 3 major periods of history. (Criteria)

50 Example of Learning Outcomes– con’t  Students will be able to identify at least two contributions that each diverse member of the LC team brings to the organization’s problem solving strategies.  Students will be able to identify resources for international protocol when conducting business on non-native soil.  Students will be able to analyze poor work performance and ascribe positive performance management solutions.  From: Bresciani, Simpson, Osters, Phillips, and Fuller (2006).

51 Work on Learning Outcomes  Write down at least one outcome you would like to have for your learning community students the stems from your goals  Work on developing more outcomes after that if time remains.  Report out when you have a sample you’d like to share.  Replicate this process on your campus Include “doers,” and “thinkers.”

52 Sidebar: Program Outcomes  Program outcomes are not statements of what the program will do to students. I.E – Not “The LC program will assist students in transition.”  Rather they are statements about the end result of the program’s doing I.E. As a result of the LC Program’s efforts, a 50% increase in retention of transfer students will be noted.

53 Sidebar: Example of Program Outcomes  The Service Learning Scholars Learning Community will increase the participation of underrepresented students by 50% by  The Department of Residence Life will be able to accommodate 90% of Learning Community housing first priority housing requests. Does this lend itself to answering the question of “Why were 10% or more not obtained?” if that happens?  Not today’s focus

54 Step 4: Outline Delivery  How will LC’s be done on your campus?  How will they interact with other initiatives?  What classes/professors should be involved?  Consider these models

55 Some Macro Delivery Methods  Linked courses  Sections or co-horts  Academic/Co-curricular integration  Peer Mentors

56 Not a Movement Toward Smallness  Smallness will be expensive  Expensive reforms are sometimes less sustainable  Movement toward connectedness

57 Linked courses  A.K.A – Paired Courses, clustered courses  Structure: One individually taught course is related or “linked” to one (or more) course(s) usually from a different discipline. Points: Often useful for pairing communications to a discipline introduction course Learning Community Section

58 Linked Courses Points (con’t)  Look for “skills overlap.” i.e. The duplications in individually taught courses.  Theme statement for the linkage can be helpful i.e. Diversity in Mass Media – Link PHIL 1360 Africana Studies and JOUR 1157 Mass Media Communications.  Clusters of courses – Three or four courses

59 Linked Courses Points (Con’t)  Offers times for all students to be together Community interaction outcomes Ease of planning sessions and extra- curricular activities.

60 A Misnomer  Simply linking the courses is not enough. Linked course registration is not the “end result.”  Faculty Development and Support is needed to integrate outcomes, syllabi, and curricula.  Time and Resources

61 Sections or co-horts of students  A.K.A. – Clusters of students, groupings, or pods  Structures: Optional*– Seminar class Class A Class B Class C Optional*– Depending the level of integration

62 Explanation of co-hort structures  Structures: There are varying levels of linkage/clustering courses between courses, varying course sizes but a set small group of students moves through courses together. Offers opportunities for focus on interest areas and high motivation for students  A seminar class can often pull together the courses nicely and fit the needs for student population support (i.e. Freshmen/First year Experience Classes)  Usually the presence of this seminar class is related to the level of linkage between the courses.

63 Sections/Co-horts Points  Points: Students often form relationships centered on educational interests… Offers varying levels of Pure Enrolments (Smith, MacGregor, Matthews, and Gablenick (2004), p.77) But fosters interactions with other students. Opportunities for Peer Mentors Much hinges upon curricular integration  Co-curricular integration and type of Co-curricular involvement  Faculty support

64 The “Pure Co-hort” Approach Optional*– Seminar class Class A Class B Class C

65 Pure Co-hort Points  Critiqued by students that they see too much of the same people  Often class sizes are smaller  Faculty are “collaborators” with students whom they get to know quite well. Especially if a cohesive curriculum is built.  Usually highly integrated.

66 Academic/Co-curricular Integration  Often Student Affairs/Services are ready to engage in learning processes  Can offer resources  Examples: Leadership development seminars Service learning experiences Debates Multicultural/ Diversity Issues events

67 Residential Clusters  Can mirror academic curricular structure  Can mirror academic outcomes  Residential life staff often have theories or models they are applying  Often administrators are in charge of housing assignments

68 Peer Mentors  Can students offer the outcomes you intend?  Can you “grow your own crop,” of LC mentors?  Opportunities: Mentors are often highly accessible to students. Mentors often offer extremely powerful relationships and advice Mentors can cope with a wide range of issues. Can assist/create in keeping outcomes “fresh.”

69 Some points with mentors  Training may be needed Student Affairs can often help  Varying levels of “buy in” regarding outcomes  They are students also. Accountability Issues Management Issues

70 After Delivery: How will you assess the outcomes?  Ask yourself this question about your 1 outcome: Some questions to think about  How will you notice the outcome when it “comes out?” See the included “cheat sheet.”

71 Timing for Assessment  If learning is delivered in the course: Assessment of student learning is often best captured in or from the course Assessment systems which document this learning can be created  Evaluations of programs are important as well.  Best to link program and student learning assessment

72 A Word on Portfolios  Student portfolios assist in tracking student learning and the assessment of that learning  Portfolios can follow the student  The artifacts of the student’s learning are direct  Assist in creating cohesive curriculum  Can be easy to set up!

73 Components of a portfolio  Paper or electronic?  Electronic Varying forms of a matrix Links, simple marks, or comments? Some form of statement about the purpose of the portfolio

74 An Example: Aggiefolio  4.html 4.html  For another example see IUPUI website UROP/resport.html UROP/resport.html

75 To Review  Today we have: Discussed LC history, structure, institutional culture, and rationale/ Planned learning community aspects such as:  Target audience  Theme/Mission, Goals, Outcomes, Delivery Method Crafted outcomes for students in Learning Communities. Discussed LC models.

76 Where today leaves off…  Assessment Methods were only skimmed Often should be expertly (in situ) crafted but you have some info to ponder  Implementation How to navigate the championing of your ideas  Pedagogy and Faculty Support Faculty Development is so crucial  Funding and Resource Management

77 A Word of Advice…  “We believe that learning communities are an appropriate, rational, and ethical response to many challenges in higher education. Yet... [they] are not a panacea... and they are not a quick fix for a campus.” ~Faith Gabelnick from ect.asp?pid=73

78 Contact Matt Fuller Texas A&M University

79 Resources - Web  The National Learning Commons Website pid=73 pid=73 Critical Elements to LC Development  The National Learncom Listserv Creating Learning Communities to Enhance Student Success: April 19 th Offered by Innovative Educators: Dr. Jodi Levine Creating Learning Communities to Enhance Student Success:

80 Resources – Books/Articles  Shapiro, N. and Levine, J. H. (1999). Creating learning communities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers  Smith, B. L., J. MacGregor, R. Matthews, and F. Gabelnick Learning Communities: Reforming Undergraduate Education. Jossey-Bass.  Why Learning Communities? Why now? Article by K. Patricia Cross in About Campus 3.3 July/August 1998.

81 References  Anderson, J. (1992) as noted in Chism, N. Acknowledging the Learning Styles of Diverse Populations: Implications for the College Classroom. In New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Jossey-Bass Inc., San Francisco, Spring,  Bresciani, M., Simpson, N., Osters, S., Phillips, L., and Fuller, M. (2006). Evidence-Based Decision Making: Planning for Assessment. Workshop session given Nov. 11,  Cross, P. Why Learning communities? Why now? Article from About Campus. Vol. 3. Ed. 3 July/August  Ewell, P. T. (2003). Specific Roles of Assessment within this Larger Vision. Presentation given at the Assessment Institute at IUPUI. Indiana University-Purdue University- Indianapolis.  Hill, P. (1985). The Rationale for Learning Communities. Accessed April 7, 2006 from e1.pdf e1.pdf

82 References  Howe, N. (2003). Keynote at The Council of Independent Colleges 2003 President’s Institute. Found online at: ring2003/PI2003_millennial.html ring2003/PI2003_millennial.html  Maki, P. (2001). Program review assessment. Presentation to the Committee on Undergraduate Academic Review at NC State University.  National Learning Commons FAQ Website. Accessed  Shapiro, N. and Levine, J. H. (1999). Creating learning communities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers  Smith, B. L., MacGregor, J., Matthews, R., & Gabelnick, F. (2004). Learning communities: Reforming undergraduate education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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