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Assessing Students' Learning Experiences

In my learning community, I reflect on or explain in writing or aloud how integrating ideas, strategies, and skills from classes (or disciplines) included in this learning community leads to new insights or understanding.
– Question from the Online Student Survey

At the last gathering of Washington Center’s national project on Assessing Learning in Learning Communities, colleagues asked if the Center would consider developing an online student survey that would give learning community programs benchmark data on students’ experiences of learning in learning communities.

By gathering students’ experiences of learning, we sought to assess the “what” and “how” of substantive learning in learning communities. And, by learning community, we had in mind the classic definition: a common cohort of students who attend two or more classes together in which they experience an explicitly designed opportunity for integrative learning. By integrative learning, we meant the intentional integration of ideas and/or practices drawn from two or more disciplines (or areas of expertise) which invite new questions, understanding, explanations, and applications.

In 2009, in partnership with Skagit Valley College Institutional Research Office and its director, Maureen Pettitt, Washington Center developed an online student survey—Students’ Experiences of Learning in Learning Communities. Since that time, over 20,000 students at 62 institutions have responded to the survey.

In 2014, we began piloting a new Peer-to-Peer Reflection Protocol as a follow-up to the online survey. Any institution may use the survey and the protocol. Skagit Valley College charges a flat fee of $150 for survey administration, with some custom options available for additional fees.

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