In addition to changes in the requirements for general education at WOU, the General Education Task Force also recommends the development of a learning communities program that would provide an optional pathway towards fulfillment of at least some of the newly defined requirements.
This page has more information about the General Education Task Force recommendations for piloting Learning Communities at WOU. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In most basic terms, a learning community is a set or cluster of courses that are:
A learning communities program that would offer students an optional pathway towards fulfillment of general education requirements.
We envision learning communities as being composed of pairs of courses:
In addition, faculty should be encouraged to design and propose learning communities that could serve a variety of student and program needs, including communities:
A learning communities option would provide an additional opportunity for faculty and students to, “Integrate knowledge, perspectives, and strategies across disciplines to answer questions and solve problems,” which is one of the newly adopted General Education Learning Outcomes (GELOs).
As noted above, learning communities also provide an opportunity to integrate Foundational Skills instruction with specific content learning. This opportunity would allow faculty to address another newly adopted GELO, that students should: “Put into practice different and varied forms of knowledge, inquiry, and expression that frame academic and applied learning.”
A learning communities program is consistent with the university’s Strategic Plan for Academic Initiatives, and would specifically address the call to, “Promote interdisciplinary courses and degree programs that support collaborative and multidimensional educational experiences and pathways.”
The Task Force had two main reservations about making learning communities a required part of the general education program.
Requiring participation in a learning community, or, learning communities, could force some part-time students to enroll in more credits than they wish or are able to afford or manage. For others, fulfilling a learning communities requirement could significantly constrain their choice of credits in a given year or term, which could pose difficulties for timely fulfillment of other parts of their degree plan, an outcome that would run counter to the university’s strategic planning for Academic Program Initiatives in general education (see section 4.5 of the Strategic Plan).
While any change in the curriculum and degree requirements comes with some level of uncertainty for faculty, staff, and administration, learning communities pose a number of unknowns regarding, for example, management of faculty workloads and achieving and maintaining a sufficient number of communities to serve all students.
As can be seen in the examples from other institutions provided below, learning communities are frequently employed as an optional or alternative, rather than a required, means of fulfilling general education and degree requirements.
The expectation of the Task Force is that review and assessment of the general education program would include consideration of how learning communities can be a more effective tool for facilitating student learning and completion of requirements.
Learning communities make it possible for students to:
For faculty, participating in a learning community is an opportunity to:
General background and reference:
Specific examples referenced during the Task Force discussion of this option: