“Reading and Writing Connections for Acceleration” Cheryl Scott Charlyn Cassady Sandy Jones The Community College of Baltimore County Definition “Any of one of a variety of curricular structures that link together several existing courses – or restructure curricular material – so that students have opportunities for deeper understanding and integration of the material they are learning and more interaction with one another and their teachers as fellow participants in the learning enterprise.” (From: New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 41, Spring 1990) Purpose The purpose of CCBC’s Learning Communities Program is to offer students a more integrated learning experience by providing greater curricular coherence and by increasing collaboration of students and faculty in the pursuit of learning. Students are provided with an enriched and supportive learning experience. CCBC’s Learning Communities: Quick Facts 50 plus learning communities a year, including general education, developmental education, ESOL, and Honors communities. Developmental learning communities pair RDNG 052 or ENGL 052 with an introductory or general education course such as PSYC 101, SPCM 101, HLTH 101, HIST 116, SOCL 101, CRJU 101, and ENGL 101. Some communities pair developmental reading 051 and 052 with developmental English 051 and 052. Characteristics of CCBC’s Program Offer students an integrated learning experience, including the use of integrative assignments and syllabi. Help students understand the relationship between different subjects and disciplines. Provide opportunities for students to think critically and analytically. Encourage students to be personally accountable for learning. Provide students with an enriched and supportive learning experience as they form close bonds with faculty and peers. Provide opportunities for students to work collaboratively with others. Why Offer Learning Communities for Developmental Learners? “The most logical goal for college reading and learning programs would be to teach students a repertoire of strategies and tactics that will prepare them for the tasks and texts they encounter in college.” (Stahl, Simpson, & Hayes, 1992) Contextualizing Through Developmental Learning Communities Pairs a developmental course with a general education credit course. Utilizes content of the credit course for skill development in the developmental course. Assists students with connecting their learning across courses and disciplines. Integrating Aspects of the Learning Community Use of authentic readings Readings from textbooks. Readings from journals. Strategy and skill transfer Apply reading and thinking skills to content course text and lecture material. Learn and practice note-taking and study techniques. Integrating Aspects of the Learning Community Use of collaborative learning techniques: Group written essays. (“Tell me a story”) Working with a partner to develop test questions. Small group work. (T.V. commercials!) Games! – Let’s Play Jeopardy! Integrating Aspects of the Learning Community Emphasis on metacognition “Learning-to-learn.” “Thinking about thinking.” Memorization and recall strategies. Predicting test questions. “Debriefing” after exams. Reading 052 – College Reading Emphasis on critical thinking and reading skills: Practice techniques for reading college textbooks and taking notes. Locate stated and implied main ideas. Draw conclusions; distinguish fact from opinion, determine inferences. State an argument and develop a sound and supported counter-argument. ENGL 052 – Basic Writing Emphasis on critical thinking and writing skills: Practice a recursive writing process for academic writing that includes invention, planning, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. Write a clear thesis statement and develop topic sentences for each paragraph in an essay. Develop and organize appropriate and accurate supporting details. Use appropriately-referenced sources to support arguments and evaluate counter arguments. Benefits of Developmental Learning Communities Provides content validity. Transfers skills with authentic assignments. Views students as efficacious, not deficient in intelligence or skills. Encourages student ownership of learning. Accelerates entry into credit courses. Provides meaningful professional development to faculty. Participating faculty say that, as a result of the program, they have: Developed self-awareness of teaching. Placed more attention on delivery systems. Used more collaborative learning techniques. Developed more compassion for students. Developed better listening skills. Became more flexible teachers. Gave students more responsibility for learning. Expectations of Faculty Create themes and integrative assignments. Create syllabus to reflect connections between the courses and course content. Visit each others’ classes periodically to observe or participate in class activities. Communicate weekly with teaching partners. Participate in professional development workshops. Participate in research efforts. Issues – How to move away from rote repetition of text content in homework assignments? How to encourage critical thinking, e.g. application of content? How to incorporate more writing into Learning Communities? Using Bloom’s Taxonomy Knowledge of Bloom’s Taxonomy assists the student to: Read more efficiently. Retain key content. Predict test questions. Prepare for both multiple-choice and essay questions. Changed the critical thinking level of the homework assignments from the “knowledge” level to the “application” level (at minimum). Let’s take a look! Before and After Before: Read the section entitled “The Battle of the “Schools” Begins: Structuralism versus Functionalism.” NOW – Divide your paper in half! On the LEFT side, write the following questions. What is Structuralism? What is Functionalism? Answer the questions on the RIGHT side. After: APPLICATION QUESTION Edward Tichener and William James are asked to be on a panel discussion about the growing problem of juvenile delinquency. The moderator will ask each panelist how the problem of juvenile delinquency should be studied. Write a response for both men. (Format: Paragraph) Before and After Before: a) What are circadian rhythms; and b) What happens when you ignore them? After: APPLICATION QUESTION Florence N. is a registered nurse and has been working the day shift for five years. She then changes to the 11-7 shift. Florence finds that she is fatigued, sluggish and irritable when awake and cannot fall asleep when she returns home. Describe: a) what has happened to Florence; and, b) what recommendations could help Florence to adjust to the night shift. (Format: Paragraph) Before and After Before: 1. Describe the four general symptoms of schizophrenic disorders. 2. Describe the four subtypes of schizophrenic disorders. 3. Briefly describe the six factors that may influence the development of a schizophrenic disorder. After: APPLICATION QUESTION: Select one of the following subtypes of the schizophrenic disorders: Disorganized, Paranoid, Catatonic. Write a two-paragraph letter that could have been written by the patient or a family member. The letter should include: a) evidence of the symptoms/characteristics of the type of schizophrenia that you have selected; b) factors that may have contributed to the development of the schizophrenic disorder. (Format: Informal letter) Samples of Student Work…. Refer to your packets (“Samples of Student Work”) to review examples of student work from the current semester. I am so proud of my students…! One class out- performed the Honors Psychology 101 class…. Health 101 and Reading 052 Compare and Contrast Reading and Writing Assignment Reading Health Internet search for a Choose an article health article Compare information Annotate the text with that in your text Compare/Contrast web Cite the book and pages in your typed paper List 5 similarities and List 5 similarities or differences differences Use these to write your Evaluate the quality of paper the information What did you learn? Health 101 and Reading 052 Health Portfolio – a culminating Health 101 project. Reading 052 Strategies were used to develop the portfolio: Internet Research on one health practice Choose two articles Compare and Contrast chart good vs bad practices Analyze your current practices Judge - make an action plan to change PowerPoint Presentations Student Comments “It was absolutely amazing and it has instilled in me much confidence and motivation to do my best and never give up.” “What inspired me the most was the instructors’ care and understanding, their passion for the teaching. . . And their willingness to help students. . .” “Not only have I made a lot friends in my learning community, but I got to know my professors a lot better in a more personal way.” “The best aspects of my learning community are the interactions between the instructors and the students. Everyday was filled with new ways of learning and enthusiasm.” “It is the best way to learn.” MDRC Learning Communities Demonstration Large-scale, random assignment evaluation of learning community programs at six community colleges: The Community College of Baltimore County Hillsborough Community College Merced College Houston Community College Queensborough Community College Kingsborough Community College Findings from MDRC Study Designing and Managing Learning Communities A paid coordinator and committed college leaders are essential to manage and scale up a LC program. Recruiting and supporting enough motivated faculty are ongoing challenges. Selection of courses to link is strategic and must meet student needs to attract enough students to enroll. Findings from MDRC Study Teaching and Learning in Learning Communities Coordinators must be specific and clear about expectations. Support and ongoing training of faculty are essential. As coordinators clarified expectations and offered support, faculty responded positively by changing their teaching practices. Curricular integration remained difficult to implement widely and deeply. Findings from MDRC Study Supporting Students in Learning Communities Student cohorts led to strong relationships among students, creating both personal and academic networks. The strongest connection to student support services occurred when the support was integrated closely wih the learning community. References Gabelnick, F., MacGregor, J., Matthews, R.S., and Smith, B.L. (Eds). (1990). Learning communities: creating connections among students, faculty, and disciplines. (New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 41). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Stahl, M., L. Simpson, and C.G. Hayes (1992). Ten Recommendations from Research for Teaching High-Risk College Students . Journal of Developmental Education. Volume 16, Issue 1, Fall Issue. Tinto, V. Goodsell-Love, A. and Russo, P (1994). Building learning communities for new college students. State College, PA: The Pennsylvania State University National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. Visher, Mary, et al. Scaling Up Learning Communities: The Experience of Six Community Colleges. National Center for Postsecondary Research, March 2010.
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