By Dr. Letitia Harding
Special to the Logos
Learning communities (LCs) are usually paired classes that center around shared themes and activities and offer students the opportunity to get to know their classmates and professors better than in traditional classes.
LCs do this by allowing participants to approach class material, issues and topics from more than one viewpoint. For example, an LC that comprises a science class and a composition class gives students an opportunity to learn the science material in one class and then write about it or apply it to real-world scenarios in the other. According to research, LCs have been shown to increase student engagement in the classroom and to improve student retention rates.
While the University of the Incarnate Word has had LCs for many years, registration has traditionally been restricted to incoming freshmen. But why limit such a wonderful educational opportunity to a relatively small number of students – incoming freshmen whose schedules happen to match the LC offerings?
What about the freshman who could not fit an LC into his or her schedule, or the transfer student, or the athlete whose schedule precluded participation in the program? These students just didn’t fit into the narrow LC band and so lost the opportunity to partake in the program. That’s just not good enough, so it’s time for a new approach to LCs at UIW. And that time is now!
The goal is for every student to walk the stage having experienced a learning community. To achieve that goal, LCs have to be available to students beyond the freshman year. Thus, in Fall 2018, there will be additional LCs, including some upper-level classes, that will be open to all students. Those classes are listed below. Students cannot register for only one class of an LC; they must register for both classes. For example, if a student wishes to take LC X06, he or she will register for both parts of the pairing: Introduction to Philosophy and World Literature.
Because this is the first time that we have deliberately addressed upperclassmen in the LC planning, the number of offerings is relatively small. The pairings are, however, exciting. We hope there will be a lot of interest in them, so take a look now, talk to your academic adviser, and decide which one works into your degree plan.
Look out for more LCs in 2019 and feel free to let us know what you might like to see offered. Make it a priority to ensure you walk the stage having experienced a learning community.
E-mail Harding, an associate professor of English, at firstname.lastname@example.org