Collaborating with Other CollegesKingsborough Community College has been involved with the development of a number of learning community (LC) programs over a period of ten years. Our first experience was the development of a LC program for ESL students, the Intensive ESL Program. More recently, we were involved in a nationwide two-year study with MDRC called Opening Doors that focused on developing a LC program for students with developmental skills needs.
Our experience with both programs points to the success of our LC model, with student performance improving on many levels. Data clearly show that students in both Intensive ESL and Opening Doors programs are more likely to pass developmental courses than their control-group counterparts. They pass reading and writing skills tests at a rate more than double that of students in control groups. Results to date point to the fact that LCs improve instructional delivery, especially at the basic skills level, and facilitate students' passing through remediation more quickly. In doing so, students are less apt to get mired in the morass of developmental skills sequential coursework where they may lose confidence and often drop out or deplete their financial aid before completing their degree.
Based on these results and lessons learned from our own work, we feel we have much to share and in 2006 we received a grant from the Ford Foundation to work with community colleges across the nation. We are currently offering professional development and support to a number of schools interested in developing learning communities for their underprepared students. To date, professional development and support has taken the form of conferences at Kingsborough and off-site visits to participating schools.