WWC review of this study

A random assignment evaluation of learning communities at Kingsborough Community College: Seven years later

Weiss, M. J., Mayer, A., Cullinan, D., Ratledge, A., Sommo, C., & Diamond, J. (2015). Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 8(2), 189-217. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED546644

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    1,534
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: June 2021

At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Post-graduation outcomes outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Enrolled in a 4-year college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

7.20

6.10

No

--
More Outcomes

Average yearly earnings following random assignment

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

15820.00

14652.00

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

56.40

54.20

No

--

Average yearly earnings following random assignment

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

8417.00

8126.00

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

54.70

55.80

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Enrolled in a 4-year college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,534 students

2.10

1.00

No

--

Average yearly earnings following random assignment

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
1,471 students

4060.00

4611.00

No

--

Enrolled in a 4-year college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

4.40

4.10

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

5 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

56.30

53.80

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

6 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

56.20

54.20

No

--

Average yearly earnings following random assignment

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

6 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

13656.00

12655.00

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

51.60

51.20

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

56.30

56.20

No

--

Average yearly earnings following random assignment

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

10295.00

10204.00

No

--

Average yearly earnings following random assignment

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

5 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

12103.00

11970.00

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,471 students

43.50

44.50

No

--

Average yearly earnings following random assignment

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

6006.00

6166.00

No

--
Postsecondary degree attainment outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Earned a degree at any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

39.50

36.20

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Earned a degree at any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

6 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

35.90

31.50

No

--

Earned a degree at any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

20.20

17.00

No

--

Earned a degree at any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

5 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

31.90

28.40

No

--

Highest degree earned: Bachelor's degree or higher

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

16.50

14.80

No

--

Earned a degree at any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

26.50

23.80

No

--

Earned a degree at any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

6.10

5.40

No

--

Highest degree earned: Associate's degree

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

22.20

20.50

No

--

Earned a degree at any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
1,534 students

0.00

0.00

--

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

Enrolled in any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,534 students

74.40

71.20

No

--
More Outcomes

Enrollment

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,534 students

74.40

71.20

No

--

Number of regular credits earned

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,534 students

7.50

7.00

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Enrolled in any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

58.70

53.00

Yes

 
 
6

Enrolled in any 2-year college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

52.00

47.20

No

--

Registered in any course

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

52.90

47.80

Yes

 
 
5

Number of regular credits earned

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

5.60

5.10

No

--

Registered in any course

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,534 students

77.40

75.00

No

--

Enrolled in any 2-year college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,534 students

72.30

70.30

No

--

Number of regular credits earned

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

6.60

6.30

No

--

Registered in any course

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

61.30

59.20

No

--

Enrolled in any college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

62.50

61.10

No

--

Enrolled in any 2-year college

Learning Community vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
1,534 students

58.10

57.00

No

--


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: 55%
    Male: 45%

  • 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

    New York
  • Race
    Asian
    8%
    Black
    38%
    Other or unknown
    28%
    White
    27%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    20%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    80%

Setting

The study was set in Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY.

Study sample

Students were first-time, incoming freshmen who planned to attend college full time during the day, did not test into English as a Second-Language (ESL), and were between the ages of 17 and 34. Approximately 55% of the study participants were female and about 33% were the first in their families to attend college. About 20% of students in the study were Hispanic, 38% were Black/non-Hispanic, and 27% were White/non-Hispanic.

Intervention Group

Opening Doors Learning Communities (ODLC) is a one-semester learning community program. Students participating in learning communities (LC) program were expected to take three linked classes together during their first semester at the college. The ODLC was designed for full-time freshmen who did not place into the English as a Second Language (ESL) course because there was a separate program available for those students. The ODLC courses were: (1) a one-credit orientation course, (2) a developmental English course, and (3) one academic course. Class sizes within the LCs were limited to 25 students, compared with up to 35 in regular freshman classes. ODLC students received tutoring and counseling through the orientation course; tutors and case managers were assigned to each LC, and textbook vouchers were provided. In addition, students received a voucher for textbooks as part of ODLC ($225). Counselors in the LCs were responsible for 75 to 100 students and take a proactive advisement stance.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition attended courses as usual and were able to take advantage of regular services offered by the college, including tutoring, counseling, and advising. They were encouraged to take the freshman orientation course that is part of the LC. Counselors in the regular program were each responsible for 500 students.

Support for implementation

Faculty teaching courses within the LC had a reduced course load, and counselors similarly had a reduced caseload.

Reviewed: June 2021

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
College degree attainment (long-run) outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Received a degree

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

39.50

36.20

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Received a degree

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

20.20

17.00

No

--

Received a degree

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

6 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

35.90

31.50

No

--

Received a degree

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

5 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

31.90

28.40

No

--

Received a degree

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

26.50

23.80

No

--

Bachelor's degree or higher earned by year 7

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

16.50

14.80

No

--

Earning only an Associate's degree

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

22.20

20.50

No

--
College degree attainment (short-run) outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Received a degree

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
1,534 students

6.10

5.40

No

--
Earnings (long-run) outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Earnings

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

15820.00

14652.00

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Earnings

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

6006.00

6166.00

No

--

Earnings

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

8417.00

8126.00

No

--

Earnings

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

10295.00

10204.00

No

--

Earnings

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

5 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

12103.00

11970.00

No

--

Earnings

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

6 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

13656.00

12655.00

No

--
Earnings (short-run) outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Earnings

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
1,471 students

4060.00

4611.00

No

--
Employment (long-run) outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Percentage of quarters employed

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

7 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

56.40

54.20

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Percentage of quarters employed

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

5 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

56.30

53.80

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

6 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

56.20

54.20

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

51.60

51.20

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

56.30

56.20

No

--

Percentage of quarters employed

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,471 students

54.70

55.80

No

--
Employment (short-run) outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Percentage of quarters employed

Opening Doors Learning Communities Program vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
1,471 students

43.50

44.50

No

--


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: 55%
    Male: 45%

  • 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

    New York
  • Race
    Asian
    9%
    Black
    38%
    Other or unknown
    26%
    White
    27%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    20%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    80%

Setting

The study took place over four semesters (fall 2003 through spring 2005) at Kingsborough Community College, a large urban college in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, located in Brooklyn, New York. Eligibility requirements included: (1) first-time incoming freshman who planned to attend college full time during the day, (2) tested into either developmental English or college-level English, and (3) between the ages of 17 and 34.

Study sample

Of the 1,534 students participating in the study, 55 percent were female. Twenty percent reported their ethnicity as Hispanic. Race was reported as 38 percent black, 27 percent white, and 9 percent Asian or Pacific Islander. Free/reduced price lunch statistics were not reported but the authors did report employment and earnings for years or quarters prior to the study. A little over half had ever been employed (54%) in the year prior to random assignment, and reported earning, on average, less than $950 in the quarter prior to random assignment. Less than half (47%) spoke a language other than English regularly at home, but as a condition of recruitment, no students tested into English as a second language.

Intervention Group

As part of the Opening Doors Learning Communities, first semester freshmen are placed into groups of 25 or fewer students that take a set of three linked classes together that are scheduled in a block: an English course (either college-level or developmental), an academic course required by major, and a 1-credit freshman orientation course. Students assigned to the intervention condition were also provided with enhanced counseling and tutoring services, as well as textbook vouchers.

Comparison Group

Students assigned to the comparison group took the college's business-as-usual classes and received the college's regular services. They were not required to take English or the freshman orientation course.

Support for implementation

The authors did not describe support for implementation.

 

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