General Engineering Learning Community (Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019). Clemson University, Clemson, SC.
Approximately 110 freshmen General Engineering students who placed into a slower, two-semester introductory calculus sequence participate in the fall semesters. Activities before the semester begins facilitate community development and provide initial skills for transition to a rigorous college environment. Students enroll in a college skills course, in which they learn together in communities of practice - both how to learn, and supporting each others' learning in the difficult concepts of their core curriculum. Learners engage in reflective practice and create portfolios to illustrate their competence as effective STEM students. Coaches assist with their self-directed learning sessions. A smaller cohort continues in the spring semester as students enroll in a Creative Inquiry to continue investigating effective individual and collaborative learning practices.
Peer Leader Training (Fall 2015- present). Clemson University, Clemson, SC.
Tutors and Peer-Assisted Learning leaders take a one-credit, pass/no pass training course in which each section is its own community of practice. Their semester opens and closes with reflection on their values and how those values inform their practice. Smaller practice groups meet weekly to engage in dialogue around challenges they face in their practices (first half of semester) and develop presentations on questions or challenges to deepen their practice (second half of semester). Individuals engage with their choice resources related to specific learning outcomes (CRLA Level 2 content) determined by their own inquiry into their practice. The leaders integrate the concepts into their sessions and reflect on the outcome and effect on their practice.
Entangled Biology (Fall 2015). Clemson University, Clemson, SC.
Students in one section of Principles of Biology met in required self-directed study groups outside of class and reflected on both what they were learning and how they were learning the material. Coaches were available to assist and to read reflections. This was a failed implementation but an important learning experience:
- The course needs to be built around an Entangled Learning approach rather than have study groups included as an add-on experience in a traditional lecture-based, teacher-as-expert approach.
- Entangled Learning processes require scaffolding and modelling so that the students have an idea of what is expected. Feedback is also required.
- Coaches need to be integrated with the communities of learners so that the learners will see them as interested and valuable support.