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LIU Brooklyn Learning Communities
LIU Brooklyn Learning Communities (LIUBLC) was initiated in 2011 in response to a Faculty Senate “Vision” Committee charged to explore ways of improving student engagement, learning, and retention and completion rates. Building on an earlier effort initiated by staff, which was successful but involved a relatively small number of students and lacked an academic component, the current theme-based model with a strong emphasis on integrative learning has grown from seven cohorts of twenty students in 2011 to fifteen slated for fall 2014. At its inception, the initiative was generously supported by a $25,000 planning grant from the LIU Board of Trustees and is now widely viewed as a strategic priority at the Brooklyn campus and throughout the University.
In addition to scaling up first-year learning communities to include all entering students, we are piloting sophomore communities for the first time this fall. One of the unique features we are developing is an emphasis on archival research, inspired by the involvement of several cohorts in the Brooklyn Historical Society’s FIPSE-funded project, Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA). For more information, please read successive reports from 2012, 2013, and 2014, and note the strong impact of the LIU Brooklyn team’s first time at NSILC in 2012 on the conceptualization of the program. Other materials include a graphic illustration of LIUBLC’s structure and a faculty application to propose a thematic learning community.
LIUBLC aims to support the work of the faculty in reshaping education to meet the needs of our students in a rapidly changing world. Collaboration and connections in learning community cohorts will reveal the purposes, assumptions, and biases that inform different disciplines and approaches. Faculty will develop integrative approaches to teaching by focusing on the ideas, issues, and problems that link learning community courses rather than on discrete bits of knowledge. Students will discover underlying patterns and principles for themselves rather than drill deep in one area disconnected from other contexts as so often happens in more insulated, discipline-bound approaches to teaching and learning. While this sort of interdisciplinary pedagogy is not appropriate for all courses, for many it has the capacity to illuminate both course content and the human and historical processes in which it unfolds.
A high level of faculty and administrative support forms the basis for a powerful collaboration of faculty, administration, and, ultimately, students in rebuilding educational practices to better meet our institutional mission. LIUBLC faculty co-directors assure that the project will be faculty driven and responsive to faculty needs, interests, and strengths. Additionally, the restructured Office of Student Development and Retention, with well-defined First Year and Second Year Programs, can provide the necessary assistance in scheduling classes, advertising cohorts, and recruiting and advising students.
The LIUBLC plan is multipronged: Phase One has included researching learning communities, faculty committee feedback and biannual reports to the Faculty Senate, a kick-off conference in May 2011, and the expansion of the program to seven learning communities in AY 2011-12 and 15 cohorts slated for AY 2012-13. This summer a campus team will attend the National Summer Institute on Learning Communities at the Washington Center at Evergreen State College. All of these activities are contributing to the process of assessment, redesign, and implementation of learning communities. The ultimate goal is Phase Two—a fully developed program for first and second year students—which will be fully implemented for the 2014 incoming class.
And for a more interactive experience, try the Flipbook below: