Guidelines for Best Practice in Learning Community Assessment
- Identify the intended learning outcomes of the learning community experience.
Cognitive outcomes related to achievement (e.g., increased communication
- Affective outcomes related to student development (e.g., increased
tolerance, decreased anxiety, increased career maturity,
- Social outcomes that create a supportive learning environment (e.g.,
increased sense of belonging).
- Clarify how the intended outcomes of the learning community experience
will help students reach the intended outcomes of the academic program.
- Design learning community experiences to help students achieve intended
- Identify a control group, if possible.
- Decide what types of measures will assess the intended outcomes (e.g.,
examination of student work, surveys, student reflections, etc.) Develop
a realistic plan for collecting data from both learning community students
and control students.
- Collect background data on students (e.g., demographic information,
learning styles) to find out:
Gather feedback about the effectiveness of the intervention itself.
Student perceptions of the learning community experience can help interpret
other assessment findings and provide information to guide program improvement.
- Who participates in learning communities
- How they respond to the learning community experience
- Assess student satisfaction
with the experience.
- Assess the effectiveness
of important components
of the learning community
(e.g., peer mentoring)
- Consider the use of
focus groups, interviews,
or student reflections
in journals or portfolios to find out what the experience meant
to students. This approach may increase your understanding of the learning
community and point out variables you haven't already identified.
- Monitor the long-term effectiveness of the learning community by collecting
retention and GPA data for both learning community students and controls.
- Use the results. Hold a team meeting involving everyone on the learning
community teaching/delivery team to look at the results and consider
improvements that can be (a) incorporated in the future or (b) conveyed
to future faculty, staff, and peer mentors who teach in the learning community.