The study is part of a suite of studies of career-focused learning communities, but this particular study focuses on learning communities in Kingsborough Community College, one of six community colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, located in Brooklyn. The Kingsborough learning communities spanned eight majors (business administration, accounting, allied health, mental health, early childhood education, tourism and hospitality, criminal justice, and liberal arts). The program entailed one single-credit course ("integrative seminar") with two courses required for the major.
The study sample was reflective of the diversity of the Kingsborough student body: 35.6% Black, 29.9% White, 20.2% Hispanic, and 10.3% Asian or Pacific Islander. Nearly 40% of the students spoke a language other than English at home, and one-quarter were the first member of their family to attend college. Over half (52.2%) received financial aid during the semester of random assignment, and 36.6% were financially dependent on parents.
This Career-Focused Learning Communities program enrolled students who were in their second semester (or beyond) and had already fulfilled any developmental requirements and declared a major. Participating students enrolled in three linked courses: two courses in their major and a third integrative seminar, intended to reinforce the interdisciplinary teaching in the other two courses. In addition, the integrative seminar aimed to raise students' awareness of career options within their major. The three courses emphasized project-based learning through integrative assignments, encouraging active, collaborative learning.
Students in the comparison condition met the same eligibility criteria as those in the intervention group, but they attended courses that were not part of the Career-Focused Learning Communities program and used more traditional lecture-based instructional techniques.
Support for implementation
The program includes a faculty development coordinator within each major who was responsible for meeting with faculty and guiding their course development and professional development, and creating faculty teams and pairs. Faculty were expected to spend about 25 hours per semester planning and coordinating, including visiting each other's classes and meeting with the faculty development coordinator. They worked to align syllabi (including those integrative assignments), synchronize readings, and develop long-term joint projects, connecting classes by an overarching theme. They were also intended to meet and reflect (including looking at student work) at the end of each semester. Not all of these supports were present during this implementation as it was rolled out over time.