WWC review of this study

The effects of learning communities for students in developmental education: A synthesis of findings from six community colleges.

Visher, M. G., Weiss, M. J., Weissman, E., Rudd, T., & Wathington, H. D. (2012). New York: Columbia University, Teachers College, National Center for Postsecondary Research. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED533825.pdf. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED533825

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    3,390
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: July 2021

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Academic achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Passed college-level math

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Queensborough Community College;
989 students

10.00

10.40

No

--
More Outcomes

Passed college-level composition

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Baltimore Community College;
1,083 students

26.80

29.60

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Passed college-level math

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Females - Queensborough;
561 students

11.70

8.50

No

--

Passed college-level math

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Males - Queensborough;
428 students

7.90

13.00

No

--
Progressing in college outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Enrollment

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Queensborough Community College;
1,034 students

71.90

69.10

No

--
More Outcomes

Full-time registration

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Queensborough Community College;
1,034 students

53.00

50.10

No

--

Number of regular credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Queensborough Community College;
1,034 students

12.40

11.80

No

--

Full-time registration

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Houston Community College;
1,273 students

26.30

25.00

No

--

Number of regular credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Houston Community College;
1,273 students

4.70

4.70

No

--

Enrollment

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Baltimore Community College;
1,083 students

64.20

64.60

No

--

Enrollment

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Houston Community College;
1,273 students

61.00

60.90

No

--

Number of semesters registered

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Queensborough Community College;
1,034 students

2.40

2.30

No

--

Number of semesters registered

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Houston Community College;
1,273 students

1.50

1.50

No

--

Number of semesters registered

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Baltimore Community College;
1,083 students

1.50

1.50

No

--

Number of regular credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Baltimore Community College;
1,083 students

5.90

6.00

No

--

Full-time registration

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Baltimore Community College;
1,083 students

39.10

43.60

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Number of regular credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Females - Queensborough;
579 students

13.20

11.80

No

--

Number of semesters registered

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Females - Houston;
849 students

1.60

1.50

No

--

Number of semesters registered

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Females - Queensborough;
579 students

2.40

2.30

No

--

Number of regular credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Females - Houston;
849 students

5.20

5.00

No

--

Number of semesters registered

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Males - Queensborough;
455 students

2.40

2.40

No

--

Number of regular credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Males - Queensborough;
455 students

11.40

11.70

No

--

Number of regular credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Males - Houston;
424 students

3.50

4.30

Yes

-9
 
 


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 61%
    Male: 39%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Maryland, New York, Texas
  • Race
    Asian
    5%
    Black
    40%
    Other or unknown
    40%
    White
    15%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    32%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    68%

Setting

The study includes students from New York, Texas, and Maryland. Students in New York were from Queensborough Community College in Brooklyn and Queens; students in Texts were from Houston Community College; and students in Maryland were from the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC).

Study sample

The majority of study participants across colleges were females, with percentages ranging from 55.9% to 66.7% in each college. Most students were traditional age. At the three colleges, the study samples were racially diverse, and Queensborough had no racial majority. Most of the study participants were Latino at Houston (54.9% respectively), and most of the study participants at CCBC were Black (54.9%). The percentage of White students ranged between 3.1% at Houston to 31.5% at CCBC. Most study participants did not have children of their own; however, 28% of the Houston sample had children. Most students across the three colleges had high school diplomas.

Intervention Group

Linked learning communities are programs that provide social and curricular linkages, based on academic themes and content. Colleges generally provide a shared curriculum, organized around a common theme and structures to build a community of learners within an entering cohort of students. The colleges varied in the types of programs provided and themes that were emphasized. The four components of the intervention are: linked courses with student cohorts, faculty collaboration, thematic instructional practices, and integrated student support services.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group received standard services from the college.

Support for implementation

Support for implementation varied by colleges, and generally included some form of professional development or training for faculty.

Reviewed: October 2016

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Access and enrollment outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

College enrollment

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
6,974 students

0.84

0.83

Yes

--
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

College enrollment

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
6,974 students

0.64

0.63

No

--

College enrollment

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
6,974 students

0.50

0.50

No

--
Credit accumulation and persistence outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

College-level credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
6,974 students

9.90

9.80

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

College-level credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
6,974 students

6.87

6.72

No

--

College-level credits earned

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
6,974 students

3.35

3.29

No

--
Progress in developmental education outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Completed targeted developmental course sequence by the third semester

Linked Learning Communities vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
6,974 students

0.38

0.35

Yes

--
 


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Suburban, Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    California, Florida, Maryland, New York, Texas

Setting

The pooled student sample includes students from six U.S. locations (California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Maryland). The Community College of Baltimore County is in Baltimore, MD. Hillsborough Community College is in Tampa, FL. Houston Community College is in Houston, TX. Kingsborough Community College and Queensborough Community College are in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, respectively. Merced College is in Merced, California. Across these sites, students participated in one of 174 learning communities.

Study sample

The majority of study participants across colleges were females (with percentages ranging from 51.3% to 66.7%), and primarily traditionally aged students. At the six colleges, the study samples were racially diverse, and at three of them (Hillsborough, Kingsborough, and Queensborough), had no racial majority. Most of the study participants were Latino at Merced and Houston (54.8% and 54.9% respectively), and most of the study participants at CCBC were African-American (54.9%). Most study participants did not have children of their own, however 28% of the Houston sample had children, and 26% of the Merced sample had children. Most students across six colleges had high school diplomas, however at Kingsborough, 31% had GEDs. Up to 40% of students were the first in their families to attend colleges, and the proportion of first-generation students varied across colleges. The percentage of white students ranged between 3.1% (at Houston) to 31.5% (at CCBC). No information about baseline socio-economic status was provides aside from information about whether students received financial aid during the semester of assignment, which had a large proportion of missing values (from 22.4% to 37.9%) and was not presented for one of the six schools (Kingsborough).

Intervention Group

Linked learning communities are programs that provide social and curricular linkages, based on academic themes and content. Colleges generally provide a shared curriculum, organized around a common theme and structures to build a community of learners within an entering cohort of students. Colleges vary in the types of programs provided and themes that are emphasized. Among four components of the intervention, colleges may be at basic, midrange, or advanced levels. The four components are: linked courses with student cohorts, faculty collaboration, thematic instructional practices, and integrated student support services.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group received standard services from the college.

Support for implementation

Support for implementation varied by colleges, and generally included some form of professional development or training for faculty.

 

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