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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    MSU develops learning communities

    Today is the deadline for faculty to make proposals on how to develop “learning communities” on the MSU campus.
    Learning communities could group students with similar majors and interests in dorms and classes. Learning communities at MSU will be curriculum based. The communities will typically last for a semester or two, Vice President of Student Affairs William Kibler said.
    Kibler said learning communities are a valuable resource. Kibler and MSU’s interim coordinator of learning communities Richard Raymond have both had experience with learning communities at other universities-Kibler at Texas A&M and Raymond at Iowa State University.
    “Learning communities are small groups of students who have common interests,” Kibler said. “These communities can be created in many different forms.”
    In addition to other campuses, those developing the communities have consulted the National Learning Communities Project-an organization that supports the development of these types of communities on college campuses.
    The project’s Web site says the purpose of communities is to “rearrange the curricular time and space of both students and teachers; to foster community among courses; and to create more sustained intellectual interaction among students and their teachers.”
    “The vision of the project is to stretch the communities across different curriculums and grade levels,” Raymond said.
    Usually they are centered on a common topic or focus, Kibler said.
    “Professors would be able to create a curriculum between two classes,” Kibler said. “For example, an English teacher and a history professor could collaborate on assignments between the two classes.”
    Some schools also set up their communities where students could live in the same dorm or area, Kibler said.
    Three to four learning communities will be developed over the summer and tested with students in the fall.
    Professors who are selected to lead the learning communities in the fall will be given a $2,500 grant to research learning communities and structure their program, Kibler said.
    “Students who are involved in the learning communities usually make better grades and also enjoy their college experiences more. They also have a high retention rate compared to other students,” he said.
    Freshmen are usually the focus for learning communities because they are the students that are harder to retain. Upper-class students usually have smaller classes and begin to have the same classmates without these types of communities, Kibler said.
    “Currently we are working on ways for students to sign up for communities. Students will probably be able to sign up for communities they are interested in online,” Raymond said.

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    MSU develops learning communities