How do learning communities work?
When faculty teach in a learning community, their courses are "linked" to one or more other courses. This means that instructors in a learning community share a cohort of about 25 students. Instructors collaborate to connect their courses through a common theme around a common issue. In addition, they choose course materials and develop activities and assignments designed to encourage integrative learning, which has been identified as an essential student learning outcome. So, for example, in a learning community that links Biology with Psychology, a common theme might be “health” and students might integrate what they learn in both courses to explore an issue such as diabetes that has both biological and psychological implications. This way, students can connect and apply what they learn.
Instructors in learning communities also get additional support as the learning communities program has its own counselors, advisers, and other support services for students.
Who should teach in a learning community?
Faculty who are interested in fostering integrative thinking and in collaborating with colleagues across disciplines.
How do I get involved in learning communities?
If you are interested in teaching in a learning community, or if you and a colleague have an idea for a link, please first check with you chairperson(s). If your chair agrees, please contact Janine Graziano (email@example.com).
What is expected from me if I teach in a learning community?
Instructors interested in participating in Kingsborough Learning Communities attend a new faculty workshop the semester before they begin. They then spend the following module (Winter or Summer) collaborating with other members of their team--identifying shared student learning outcomes and themes, synchronizing course topics to maximize connections, and designing shared integrative assignments. (Please see some sample faculty collaborations).
Kingsborough believes in a sustained model of professional development; there is a kick-off and closing meeting each semester and faculty are asked to meet regularly during the semester to keep courses tightly integrated and to be sure students are making progress. Attendance at program meetings and regular team meetings are part of the commitment teams make to learning communities, and faculty are compensated for this collaborative work.
Professional development is coordinated by Profs. Janine Graziano and Gabrielle Kahn.
Prof. Janine Graziano
Prof. Gabrielle Kahn
What are faculty saying about their experience teaching in a learning community?
“Now that we are reaching the end of the semester, it’s amazing to see the ways in which these students, from nearly as many countries as there are students, have become a family: how they look out for one another and encourage one another and help one another study and learn inside and out of class. This is the best program I’ve been involved in at KBCC in my nine years teaching here.”
“[A] Shared assignment has involved oral presentations in Speech and scaffolding parts of [an] essay with Sociology – this allowed [students] to broaden their views as well as analyze the characters, events, and issues in the novel from a sociological perspective.”
“One student, as part of a Reading Circle activity that scanned Great Depression information over a number of text chapters, went to the board to lead a comparison of Hoover/Bush and Roosevelt/Obama. He took my marker, wrote categories and key words as he moved back and forth and talked, facing the students, about the comparisons. It took about seven minutes. This was a student who barely said a word in the beginning.”
“I write many more notes on the board than I used to, and this has also spilled over into my non-linked classes—I try to explain concepts in more detail and clarity, especially for the sake of students whose language skills are limited. I think I’m a more conscientious teacher now than I was previously.”