The Learning Community pilot program has been considered a success by students, faculty, and administrators. They believe the program offers positive benefits to freshman students seeking to complete a certificate or degree at Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State University’s Cascades Campus.
The program is directed primarily at freshmen students. Its intent is to encourage a sense of community or belonging for the students involved and to quell negative retention rates for students participating .
Central Oregon’s Learning Community (LC) programs are comprised of both an Integrated Learning Community and a Multicultural Learning Community. The Integrated LC, consisted of classes taught by professors Tony Russell and Ricky Virk, presented a format of two college courses joined together by one syllabus. This group met at Central Oregon Community College’s Bend campus.
The Multicultural LC program, on the other hand, operated under a separate syllabus for the Writing 60 and College Success classes that it consisted of. Offered at Central Oregon Community College’s Redmond campus, the Writing 60 course, taught by Chris Rubio and the College Success course, taught by Latino Student Program Coordinator Evelia Sandoval linked their courses by integrating the curriculums and syllabi of both classes throughout the term, often employing a blended classroom of students from each course.
This fall’s Multicultural Learning Community was aimed predominantly at Latino students, while the spring term program will provide a focus on the Native American student community in a separate curriculum with no continuity from the previous term’s courses. Despite a focus on Líderes Del Futuro [Leaders of the Future]: The Latino Cultural Learning Community and The Raven Writers: The Native American Cultural Learning Community, any student with any type of background is welcomed into the program.
“The program was a success,” said Evelia Sandoval. “Everyone, teachers and students, really enjoyed it.”
The program, which comes at no extra cost to COCC, OSU-Cascades or its students, was reported to have an 89 percent retention rate for students enrolled in both LCs, with an 82 percent average of students with passing grades on completion of the term.
“That is a higher retention rate than a non-program related Writing 60 class,” said Sandoval.
For the upcoming term, students and professors should expect a new application process and a 26 student cap on class sizes.
“I believe that Learning Communities are an excellent way for students to feel more connected to the college, the faculty, and other students,” said Social Science Department Chair and Instructional Dean Mike Holtzclaw. “As a result, they can play an important role in increasing student retention, thus leading to successful completion of a certificate or degree.”