Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Learning Communities Boost Retention for Part-Time College Students

There is a growing awareness that American higher education needs to better serve students who are attending college part time and who face long odds of completing a degree. Across all types of colleges, only 37 percent of students who attend part time for any portion of their college career earn a degree within six years. That’s why new data from Bunker Hill Community College's Office of Institutional Effectiveness is exciting.

The college’s leaders believe they have developed an affordable way to improve the low retention rates of their part-time students—by by offering learning communities, which provide some key elements of a traditional college experience to students who often don’t get to enjoy those resources. While the learning community model can be found at numerous colleges and universities across the country, Bunker Hill has adapted it in an unusual fashion, especially in the choice to emphasize serving part-time students.

While Bunker Hill’s learning communities model is still evolving, and research on its impact is ongoing, it provides a powerful case study of the potential for a community college to help part-time students succeed on campus. This issue brief details the evolution of learning communities at Bunker Hill and considers the successes and shortcomings of each of the three different types: seminars, clusters, and professional studies seminars. It is important to watch whether the gains Bunker Hill has seen for part-time students will translate into higher completion rates.

No comments: