Learning Communities

Bunker Hill Community College’s Learning Communities Program celebrated its 10th anniversary in spring 2017 with a January Institute devoted to the program’s impact on student learning. Learning Communities at BHCC provide students with the opportunity to explore contemporary issues in a challenging and supportive environment and foster stronger relationships among students, faculty and staff. Engaging and culturally relevant academic content; a focus on active and collaborative learning; and holistic and integrated supports deliver a rich learning experience with high impact.

An external study conducted in 2013 found that the College’s Learning Communities have statistically significant positive impacts on students’ academic progress (DVP-PRAXIS LTD & Equal Measure, 2013). Students enrolled in Learning Community Seminars and Clusters were more likely than a propensity matched comparison group to complete developmental coursework, persist in their studies, and earn more credits toward degree completion. Analysis of 2016 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) data found levels of student engagement in Learning Communities were higher for all five CCSSE Benchmarks, as compared to the random College sample and the CCSSE 2016 cohort.

With support from Achieving the Dream’s Catalyst Fund and the Vision Project, the College expanded the Learning Community Program by 77 percent from 2011 to 2015. In 2016-2017, BHCC Learning Communities taught by 166 faculty served an unduplicated headcount of 5,182 students. The College offers two Learning Community options: The three-credit Learning Community Seminar for First-year Students and Learning Community Clusters that link two or more courses across disciplines. First-time to-college students pursuing associate degrees and enrolled in nine or more credits are required to take a Learning Community Seminar or a Learning Community Cluster within their first year.

ACE Peer Mentors embedded in the Seminars help new students adjust to the College’s academic and social environment and serve as model learners, peer teachers and study group facilitators to foster students’ academic achievement, cultural competency, and engagement. In 2015-2016, 63 unduplicated students served as ACE Peer Mentors in 87 Seminars supporting 1,617 students.

Learning Community Clusters enable students to take two or more courses together organized around a common academic theme. Clusters prepare students to work together in collaborative environments and provide opportunities for students to accelerate progress to degree completion.

Learning Community Seminars and Accelerated English Clusters integrate advising and student development outcomes into teaching and learning through the integration of Success Coaches. Each Seminar and Accelerated English Cluster is supported by a Success Coach who collaborates with faculty on educational planning and delivers “just-in-time” interventions that help students to become resilient problem solvers as they learn to balance work, family responsibilities, and financial challenges. Qualitative data suggests that Success Coaching contributes to higher rates of retention, completion of developmental courses and the accumulation of credits toward degree completion.

The Success Coaching model focuses on holistic advising, which is particularly effective for the College’s student population. Coaching provides a sense of belonging for students, further connecting them to the institution. Success Coaches build relationships with students while addressing a range of student needs that encompass academic, career, personal, financial, goal-planning, and health and well-being. Interactions include classroom visits throughout the semester, workshops on academic/life balance, regular emails and newsletters, comprehensive educational planning, course registration support, making connections to College and community resources, and collaborative approaches to identifying and addressing academic challenges with faculty. Success Coaches serve as advocates for students and continue to work with them during their time at the College.

ID 16769

To contact this college about this intervention, take note of the ID above, ID #16769, and then fill out the intervention contact request form

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