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Monday, September 11, 2006
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Ohio University learning communities growing

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 11, 2006) -- Learning communities began as a pilot program at Ohio University with two communities and 40 students in fall of 1999. The program -- which places as many as 25 freshmen in two or three classes together in fall quarter -- has grown over seven years and will comprise more than 55 communities and 1,050 participants this fall.

The program has been credited with helping Ohio University enhance the first-year student experience. It also places the university among institutions nationally that have implemented learning communities to create learning-based peer networks, improve the academic success of first-year students and promote student satisfaction. 

"Our statistics have shown that at the end of their freshman year, students participating in learning communities have a higher g.p.a. than students who don't, and we know, through literature and education, that if students do well on their first term it sets a tone for the rest of their college career," said Wendy Merb-Brown, director of learning community programs. She added that taking classes together allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the courses' subject matter while they build relationships outside the classroom.

About half of the communities have a residential component, in which students live in the same residence hall and take some of the same classes. Some have themes, such as sports and society or pop culture, while others organize students by similarities such as major or college. Students say involvement in the learning communities, which they join with no additional fees, help them meet people, develop social skills and get involved.

"(The learning community has) made it easier because I'm not used to the big classes, so to know 19 or 20 people in there is great -- makes it more comforting," said student Nate Thomas, who is in the "From the Reel World to the Real World" community focusing on movies and culture. "Knowing that you have people in your classes that you know makes it easier."

To learn more about learning communities at Ohio University, visit www.ohio.edu/learningcommunities/.

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Media Contact: Director of Learning Community Programs Wendy Merb-Brown, (740) 593-9895 or merbw@ohio.edu, or Media Relations CoordinatorJessica Stark, (740) 597-2938 or starkj@ohio.edu

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