Teaching in Freshman Learning Communities
Are you new to teaching in a Learning Community program or interested in learning more? Check out the “Teaching in a Learning Community: A Practical Guide” handbook for ideas related to planning an interdisciplinary community.
Learning Communities is an exciting program for first-semester freshmen. A growing body of research suggests that students learn most effectively in an environment that promotes regular exchanges with others, faculty as well as peers. The goal of learning communities is to create an environment that encourages such exchanges and eases the transition from high school to college.
“The opportunity to get to know students outside the classroom has made the learning community more fun and a better learning experience. Over the past years, we have gone together to Chinatown, the United Nations, an off-Broadway play and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” — Ken Guest, associate professor of anthropology
Students in a supportive community of learners have a better-than-average chance of overcoming difficulties in adjusting to college life and the wager is that students who are happy and confident in their environment are better able to realize their academic potential. Learning Community students historically post markedly higher GPAs than others. In addition to student benefits, the Learning Community program offers faculty participants opportunities to connect with those they teach in ways that potentially alter a student’s educational and career path.
Faculty who choose to teach in an interdisciplinary learning community find it exciting and creative. Building on the advantages of block programming with small groups of 20 incoming freshmen, faculty create and highlight intellectual links between two courses. In addition, faculty are encouraged to develop at least two co-curricular events outside of class time. The goal is to enrich in-class discussions and assignments and to reinforce the collegial ideal of students and teachers working together on the common project.
Check out this article: Interdisciplinary Teaching: A Novel Approach — by Professor Sarah Ryan
Activities might include the following:
- Walking tours
- Museum visits
- Historical site visits
From just two learning communities comprising 40 students in 2003, the project has burgeoned to 40 Learning Communities with 800 students in the fall of 2008. Faculty participation has included a distinguished professor of history and both a Weissman School of Arts and Sciences dean and associate dean. We hope and have every expectation that the Learning Communities Program will continue to expand and to become an important component of the freshman experience at Baruch College.
A Community of Faculty
As you can imagine, the benefits of the learning community are not limited to students. Reflecting on their experiences, faculty have noted a greater level of creativity in developing interdisciplinary themes and assignments. In addition, there is a collegiality among the faculty who have new opportunities to work with those from different disciplines. It is truly a teaching and learning community of faculty.
Check Learning Communities FAQ first and then call us