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Voces de la Comunidad de Aprendizaje/Voices from the Learning Community: A Qualitative Analysis of Academic, Cognitive and Affective Outcomes of a Learning Community

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In 2005, the staff and administrators at Oregon State University (OSU) were brainstorming ways to keep students involved, engaged and in school. The university had scored well below the average that year in the areas of student engagement and student retention in a national study and administrators recognized this as a real problem that must be addressed. As part of their efforts to remedy the problem, the university invited Vincent Tinto, an expert in student engagement, student retention and learning communities, to share curricular and pedagogical innovations that have been proven to increase student engagement and student persistence. The model of teaching and learning that he shared with the audience was the learning community (LC) model.

In this paper, the researcher describes a qualitative study that focuses on the affective and cognitive/academic outcomes of the learning community offered in the spring of 2008 at OSU. In relation to cognitive outcomes, she explores four areas of interest. First, the gains students reported to have made in communicative competence in the target language (Spanish) in the areas of speaking, reading and writing. Second, what students reported to have learned in relation to Latin American culture. Third, if students reported an increase in consciousness or awareness of the themes covered in the LC and of the needs of the Latino community. Fourth, what students reported about new ways of thinking and learning based on their experience in the LC, and if they continue to use those new strategies in the traditional classroom. In relation to affective outcomes, two areas are explored: what students reported about relationships and friendships they formed in the LC, and if students have sustained those friendships. The researcher also determined if these relationships and friendships were between students of differing cultural or ethnic groups and if students have sustained these intercultural/interethnic friendships.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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