Some community colleges try to create a sense of community — and boost graduation rates — by grouping students together for classes and activities. It’s a nice idea that crashed and burned at his college, writes Community College Dean.
We treated a group of new students as a single cohort. They all took the same sections of every class together, and the instructors for the various sections coordinated assignments for maximum reinforcement. The idea was to bundle everything good into a package, and to see how successful we could get a given cohort to be. They got some of the best instructors, they had opportunities to bond with each other, and they even had special group exposure to various extracurriculars. In theory, they should have been super-integrated into the life of the college, what with all the bonding and suchlike, and their success and satisfaction rates should have gone through the roof.
They hated it.
It felt like high school. Students did well academically, but left the program, and often the college, as soon as they could, the dean writes. Students “wanted some autonomy, even if that came at the risk of some level of distance. In fact, the distance was a bit of a selling point.”
Now the dean’s college is being asked to offer classes on campus to “struggling high school students from struggling districts.” In theory, dual-enrollment programs give students a taste of college, inspiring them to graduate from high school and continue their educations. But some faculty members say “it makes the college feel like high school.” The dean worries that it’s another good idea that will not survive contact with the real world.
In the comments on the dean’s blog, quite a few people express their dislike of learning communities and/or dual-enrollment classes.