Western Kentucky University

Introduction - Teaching in Learning Communities - FaCET

Teaching In Learning Communities

Nathan Phelps, Freshman Seminar
Ginny Pfohl, Psychology

Introduction:

Discussion Questions:
--Have you been part of a learning community in the past (as teacher or student) and how did it work out?
-Are there some courses which work better linked than others?

While “learning communities” are currently proliferating at campuses across the country, there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a learning community. In essence, any classroom that brings together students and faculty engaged in the act of collaborative learning, constitutes a “learning community.” However, the term has increasingly come to refer to programs that extend the learning experience beyond a single classroom or beyond the typical three hours per week.

Some programs involve students in volunteer work (“service learning communities”), some connect the classroom to residence life (“living-learning communities”), while others involve students in cross-disciplinary programs by creating a “community” of students registered for two or more courses together as a group.

Western is currently developing learning communities that are influenced by all three of these models. The primary focus of Western’s initiative is to provide students and faculty with an opportunity to link several general education courses together, and to build a sense of community among the students taking this eight credit hour “block” of classes as a group. The courses that are currently being linked are: Psychology 100, Communications 145, English 100, History 119 and 120, and Freshman Seminar.

Different students select different combinations of these courses to fill out an eight hour learning community block. In addition, some of the students will also be living together in the newly remodeled Bates-Runner residence hall. This residential learning community will be called the “Gateway Community.” All together, these programs will involve approximately 180 incoming freshmen in the fall of 2003.

 


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