Learning Communities

One of the interventions that the Umoja Community programs utilize is learning communities. Learning communities can be “any one of a variety of curricular structures that link together several existing courses—or actually restructure the material entirely—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” (Gabelnick, 1990, p.2). Typically, learning communities are a group of classes linked by schedule and often revolving around a theme. The Umoja Community also encourages engaging students beyond the classroom by integrating a range of services from around the campus—including recruiting, financial aid, student clubs, etc.—and from the community surrounding the college in the form of mentoring and or material or cash donations. Below is a selected bibliography especially focused on building and sustaining learning communities.

Selected Bibliography

  • Gabelnick, F. G. (1990). Learning communities : creating connections among students, faculty, and disciplines (Spring ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Lardner, E., & Malnarich, G. (2008a). Sustaining Learning Communities: Moving from Curricular to Educational Reform. MASCD
  • Lardner, E., & Malnarich, G. (2008c, October). Improving Student Engagement & Academic Achievement: Learning Communities as an Intervention Strategy
  • Lardner, E. D. (2003, Winter). Approaching Diversity through Learning Communities
  • Lardner, E. D., & Malnarich, G. (2008, August). Change Magazine. A New Era in Learning-Community Work: Why The Pedagogy of Intentional Integration Matters http://www.changemag.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/July-August%202008/full-new-era.html.
  • Laufgraben, J. L., & Shapiro, N. (2004). Sustaining and Improving Learning Communities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • MacGregor, J. (1991). What Differences do Learning Communities Make? Washington Center News (pp. 4-9).
  • Malnarich, G., & Lardner, E. D. (n.d.). Designing Integrated Learning for Students: A Heuristic for Teaching, Assessment and Curriculum Design. Washington Center Occasional Paper, (Winter 2003 Number 1).
  • Meiklejohn, A. (1932). The experimental college. New York: Harper & Row
  • Shapiro, N. S., & Levine, J. H. (1999). Introducing Learning Communities to Your Campus. About Campus, 4(5), 2-10.
  • Shapiro, N. S. (1999). Creating Learning Communities: A Practical Guide to Winning Support, Organizing for Change, and Implementing Programs (1st ed., p. 220). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Smith, B. L., MacGregor, J., Matthews, R., & Gabelnick, F. (2004). Learning Communities: Reforming Undergraduate Education.
  • Tinto, V. (1998, May). Learning Communities: Building Gateways to Student Success
  • Tinto, V. (2006). Research and practice of student retention: What next? Journal of College Student Retention, 8(1), 1-19.
  • Umbach, D. P., & Wawrzynski, R. M. (2005). Faculty do matter: The role of college faculty in student learning and engagement. Research in Higher Education, 46(2), 153-184.

Online Resources

Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education:

Sample Resources

Malnarich, G., & Lardner, E. D. (Winter 2003, Number 1). Designing Integrated Learning for Students: A
Heuristic for Teaching, Assessment and Curriculum Design (Winter2003-Number1)

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