Creating a Community of Learners

August 4, 2010 at 8:34 am Leave a comment

This semester I am participating in a Faculty Inquiry Group (FIG) with my colleague Michelle, who is a Spanish instructor. Actually, she is an outstanding Spanish instructor and a great colleague. We have been talking about how important creating a sense of community is to student success for a couple of years, even though she has little experience in this area.

We will begin the semester with surveys that are designed to measure how comfortable students are with being in this class. As we all know, most developmental math students have a great deal of anxiety about being in a math class. Michelle tells me that many students in an introductory Spanish class feel the same way. I hadn’t considered that before, but upon reflection it makes sense. Taking a Spanish class requires a great amount of communication, speaking in front of the class.

We are going to use many techniques to increase the sense of community, starting on day one: icebreakers, formal groups, group assignments, … I will blog each Wednesday about our progress, including specific techniques we are employing. I’ll also twist Michelle’s arm to write a guest blog or two.

We will finish the semester with another survey to measure student confidence, as well as compare success and retention rates to those of previous semesters. We will ask students to share their thoughts, via an essay, on whether our efforts to create a sense of community impacted their individual success.

Next Week

Next week I will share my thoughts on why a sense of community is so important in a developmental mathematics class.

If you have any thoughts on our project, or any suggestions to improve it, please leave a comment or reach me through the contact page at my web site – georgewoodbury.com.

-George

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Thursday I will be blogging about the importance of community in the classroom. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website – http://georgewoodbury.com.

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