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.
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.
A Background Paper
Interest in learning communities at colleges and universities is growing, as is early evidence of their impact on student success. This paper reviews the history, theory, and research on learning communities, describes how they operate, and proposes a multicollege demonstration project to build more conclusive evidence of their effectiveness.