Two reports offer findings on the effectiveness of learning communities, a popular strategy that places small cohorts of students together in two or more thematically linked courses, usually for a single semester, with added support, such as extra advising or tutoring.
A Synthesis of Findings from Six Community Colleges
This report looks at the short-term impacts of 174 one-semester learning communities for developmental students at six community colleges. On average, the programs produced a modest impact on credits earned.
Six-Year Effects of a Freshman Learning Community Program at Kingsborough Community College
Students who participated in a one-semester learning community, in which small groups of student took three linked classes together and received other extra services, were more likely to have graduated six years later. The program also proved to be cost-effective.
Early Results from an Evaluation of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students
The City University of New York’s ASAP program requires full-time attendance and offers comprehensive supports to community college students for three full years. Early results from a random assignment study show that ASAP increases credits earned, full-time enrollment, and completion of developmental (or remedial) coursework.
An Impact Study of Eight Developmental Summer Bridge Programs in Texas
Eight developmental summer bridge programs offered accelerated and focused learning opportunities for entering college students with low skills in Texas. An evaluation shows positive impacts on introductory college-level course completion in math and writing, which faded by the end of two years. The programs had no impact on persistence or the average number of credits students attempted or earned.
Bridging the Gap between High School and College in Tacoma, Washington
Getting Ready for Success provides low-income students in Tacoma with academic and social supports and monetary incentives during the late high school and early college years to increase their motivation and ability to succeed in college.
Impact Studies at Merced College and The Community College of Baltimore County
Two colleges implemented semester-long learning communities linking developmental English with a range of other courses. At Merced, learning communities students earned more developmental English credits and passed more English courses than a control group. At CCBC, there were no meaningful impacts on students’ credit attempts or progress. Neither college’s program had an impact on persistence or on cumulative credits earned.
Effects of a Community College Program for Probationary Students
Rates of graduation and degree completion at community colleges remain distressingly low. This report evaluates two versions of a program designed to help probationary students at community college succeed in school. One version increased the average number of credits earned, the proportion of students who earned a grade point average of “C” or higher, and the proportion who moved off probation.
Effects of a Performance-Based Scholarship Program for Low-Income Parents
This report describes the impacts of a performance-based scholarship program with a counseling component on academic success and persistence among low-income parents. Students who participated in the program, which was operated at two New Orleans-area colleges as part of MDRC’s multisite Opening Doors demonstration, were more likely to stay in school, get higher grades, and earn more credits.