The Transformative Power of a Learning Community

  • Carol Hostetter
  • Sabrina Williamson
  • Katharine V. Byers
  • Pamela J. Huggins
Keywords: Learning communities, assessment, program improvement


Recently, higher education has focused on “learning communities.” This study examines a process in which students create expectations for their community of learners. The expectations provide the basis for assessment of students and the program. Across three cohorts, common themes arise. The major themes from students’ expectations of faculty are that faculty should be organized, use a variety of teaching methods, and provide mentoring. Students primarily want their peers to participate actively and constructively in class, have academic honesty, and contribute to class in a civil, respectful manner . Study findings indicate that students are empowered in finding their collective voice and holding each other accountable for classroom community. Using the transformative power of a learning community to improve both student classroom behaviors and faculty teaching appears to be a promising practice.