Learning Communities for Students in Developmental Reading: An impact study at Hillsborough Community College

M. J. Weiss
M. G. Visher
H. Wathington


Over the last four decades, community colleges have played an increasingly important role in higher education. Today, community colleges enroll more than one in every three undergraduates nationally. Unfortunately, among students who enroll in community colleges with the intent to earn a credential or transfer to a four-year institution, only 51 percent achieve that goal within six years. Many postsecondary institutions operate "learning communities" to improve low rates of success. Basic learning communities simply co-enroll a cohort of students into two classes together. This report presents results from a rigorous random assignment study of a basic learning community program at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa Bay, Florida. Hillsborough is one of six community colleges participating in the National Center for Postsecondary Research's Learning Communities Demonstration. The demonstration's focus is on determining whether learning communities are an effective strategy for helping students who need developmental education. Appended are: (1) Impact Analyses; (2) Sensitivity Analyses; and (3) Assessment of Syllabi. Individual chapters contain footnotes. (Contains 14 tables, 2 boxes and 3 figures.) [This paper was written with the assistance of Jed Teres and Emily Schneider.]



This 2010 report looks at learning communities at Hillsborough Community College. More specifically, the study looks to determine if learning communities are effective in boosting academic performance among students in developmental classes. Over 1,000 students participated in the learning communities between fall 2007 and fall 2008 with individual communities being about 20 students large. Whereas over the course of three semesters the communities had no meaningful impact, by the end of the studies, communities were showing positive impacts. This could because learning communities became more comprehensive over the three semesters studied, focusing mainly on curricular integration and faculty collaboration increasing.

APA Citation

Weiss, M. J., Visher, M. G., & Wathington, H. (2010). Learning communities for students in developmental reading: An impact study at Hillsborough Community College. NCPR Brief. New York: National Center for Postsecondary Research Brief.

About the Study

Links to Article https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C50&q=Weiss%2C+M.+J.%2C+Visher%2C+M.+G.%2C+%26+Wathington%2C+H.+%282010%29.+Learning+communities+for+students+in+developmental+reading%3A+An+impact+study+at+Hillsborough+Community+College.+NCPR+Brief.+New+York%3A+National+Center+for+Postsecondary+Research+Brief.+&btnG=
Publication Type Report
In Publication National Center for Postsecondary Research Brief
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Action research, Survey research (qualitative or quantitative)
Intervention/Areas of Study Faculty and professional development and/or training, Learning community
Level of Analysis Student-level, Program-level
Specific Populations Examined Other
Peer-Reviewed No
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest 2-year institution
Specific Course or Program Characteristics
Outcome Variables of Interest Academic achievement or performance, including assessment scores and course grades, Learning effectiveness, Persistence, Program effectiveness, Retention, Satisfaction
Student Sample Size 500 +
Citing Articles https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=15260859990468009490&as_sdt=5,50&sciodt=0,50&hl=en