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First Year

The First Year Learning Communities at City Tech is a comprehensive approach to the learning process that has challenged and changed our understanding of education. There have been significant improvements in the degree to which students feel connected to the college and the way our faculty operate in the classroom.

To address issues of fragmented learning in an environment of isolation, faculty were trained to implement cooperative (group) learning, alternative assessment in the classroom, writing assignments to be used throughout the semester, and critical thinking activities. Faculty learned how to use the support of counseling, library resources, educational resources (such as our Learning Center) and technology in the learning process. Faculty from different disciplines learned to work together to produce new curricula that connect career and liberal arts courses.

These joint curricula have given students enrolled in the First Year Learning Communities the opportunity to reflect and make connection between different disciplines. They enjoyed learning from each other and persisted at higher rates. Our focus group study indicated that students in our First Year Learning Communities benefited from the curricula and new pedagogy both socially and academically.

While most First Year Learning Communities are implemented on a small scale at Liberal Arts Colleges, City Tech has created approximately 30 First Year Learning Communities designed for a college of technology. We have career based First Year Learning Communities in which the curricula of two or more liberal arts and/or career courses have been revised to bring out the connections to particular degree programs. In addition we have theme based First Year Learning Communities consisting of a group of courses organized around a common theme, such as urban design, that is practical for students with a range of career goals.

We have clearly seen an increased discussion among the college community about the importance of addressing the teaching and learning strategies used in the classroom. Our diverse student population has been well served from these discussions because faculty implemented what they learned into their classes. In addition, student services such as the tutoring, Writing Across the Curriculum initiatives, and the broad services offered through advising and counseling have begun to be synergistically integrated. Through its inception with Title V, our Learning Community project has advanced our institution by improving pedagogy, enhancing our curricula, making better use of institutional resources and by providing more successful academic experiences for our students.

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