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.
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.
Rationale, Sites, and Research Design
Launched in 2007 by MDRC and the National Center for Postsecondary Research, the Learning Communities Demonstration is testing models of this promising approach in six community colleges in five states. This report describes the research design, including information about the colleges and their models, the random assignment process, data sources, analysis plans, and reporting schedule.
Two-Year Effects of a Freshmen Learning Community Program at Kingsborough Community College
Freshmen in a “learning community” at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY, moved more quickly through developmental English requirements, took and passed more courses, and earned more credits in their first semester than students in a control group. Two years later, they were also somewhat more likely to be enrolled in college.