June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.225.1 - 11.225.7
Applying Learning Community Pedagogy to First-Year Computer Engineering Technology Students: A Pilot Program
Abstract Student attrition and student learning are of major interest to colleges and universities. Collaborative learning or more specifically learning communities with its associated pedagogy is offered as an approach to enhance both. This paper describes a pilot approach at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The purpose of this program was to integrate learning community concepts and methodologies into the instruction protocol of Computer Engineering Technology (CpET) first-year students. The creation of an interdisciplinary collaboration would be used to enable the continual integration of liberal arts course work and “soft skill” training into technical course instruction over a three quarter academic year. The organizational and classroom structures were used to effectively support the introduction of learning communities. Implementation results of the pilot program are also presented.
Introduction “Student attrition in the first year of college is an issue of concern for all post secondary institutions.” 4 Discussions across academia indicate student learning is also of major interest to these same institutions. Common causes of student departure include; difficulties making the transition from high school to college, social isolation, and external pressures.10 “Although some aspects of students’ lives are not within the university’s sphere of influence, colleges utilize a variety of programs to address some of the factors critical to student success, such as adjustment to college, academic skill building, and interactions among students and between students and faculty”.8 Learning communities, which are becoming a staple in higher education, address these factors and are designed to increase student retention and academic achievement.4
According to the National Learning Communities Project, learning communities have arrived as a national movement and are now part of the vocabulary of higher education. Learning communities are defined as “purposeful restructuring of the curriculum by linking courses that enroll a common cohort of students. Learning communities for incoming first-year students have taken hold as a method of reducing attrition and enhancing learning. This represents an intentional structuring of the students’ time, credit, and learning experiences to build community, and foster more explicit connections among students, faculty, and disciplines”. 2
Background To support its retention initiative RIT, beginning with the 2004-2005 academic year, implemented an institute wide pilot program to introduce learning communities to incoming first-year students. The purpose of the pilot program was to evaluate whether the claimed benefits of learning communities could be substantially achieved within the RIT setting and ultimately become the basis for a campus wide implementation encompassing all future incoming first-year students.
The pilot program was strictly voluntary. All colleges, departments, programs, and faculty were encouraged to participate. The result was the formation of 14 learning communities
Hurny, J., & Hurny, G. (2006, June), Applying Learning Community Pedagogy To First Year Computer Engineering Technology Students: A Pilot Program Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/49
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