Learning Communities

Call for Fall 2017 Proposals

A Learning Community is a group of students in a common setting with a common set of academic goals or interests. Learning Communities are very broadly defined intentionally in order to accommodate a wide range of faculty ideas and goals. In some Learning Communities, two or more courses may be linked; in other Learning Communities, only one course is involved. Some Learning Communities have a residential component with students living together, while other Learning Communities may be non-residential. Various combinations are possible. Most of our current Learning Communities are designed for first-year students; however, a number of past Learning Communities have involved upper-class student groups, and proposals for new Learning Communities at any level are welcome and specifically encouraged.

In linked Learning Communities, instructors of the courses involved work together to come up with assignments that will demonstrate the academic and conceptual links between the two courses. For instance, students in Public Speaking can speak on research they have read in Psychology. In non-linked Learning Communities, instructors devise assignments that will be uniquely valuable for the special group of students involved. For instance, in a Learning Community of Communication majors, special emphasis can be given to career opportunities in that field.

For instance, we have a Learning Community in which the same 35 students take General Psychology and Introduction to Communication classes together. This is a linked, nonresidential Learning Community. In another Learning Community, Engineering majors have lived in their own residence hall sections and take Chemistry together. This would be a non-linked, residential Learning Community. In another one, twenty Honors students living in the Honors residence hall take Honors General Psychology and Honors Public Speaking together. This is a linked, residential Learning Community. In another, 25 Communication majors have their own, special section of Public Speaking. This is a nonlinked, nonresidential Learning Community.

In another example, incoming students in the College of Forest Resources are invited (but not required) to live in a residence hall together, and all take a special First-Year Seminar on World Conservation. In another, first-year Psychology majors have taken a small English Composition course while being placed and seated together in a large General Psychology course. In another community, incoming participants in the Day One Leadership Community Program are invited (but not required) to live in a designated Day One residence hall; regardless of residence, all Day One students take a two credit hour Leadership course and participate in significant service-learning projects in the community as part of the course. In another variation, some Day One students are also placed in their own section of the True Maroon First-Year Seminar or in a subsection of General Psychology. In another Learning Community, a small group of students with undeclared majors take their own section of the True Maroon First-Year Seminar while also enrolling in their own subsection of a large General Psychology. 

There are obviously many models for Learning Communities, and many ways to be creative in building them. Again, even though most of our current Learning Communities are designed for first-year students, we are eager to augment these offerings with upperclass undergraduate Learning Communities. If you have an idea, make a proposal!

We anticipate an amount of up to $500 (deposited into a departmental account) will be available to each new accepted Learning Community. These funds can be applied to the learning community itself (field trips, t-shirts, special course materials, etc.) or to the professional development of the faculty member(s) teaching it (for travel, equipment, etc.). Learning Communities may be team taught, but no more than $500 total can be allocated to any community. The money will be deposited into the instructor's departmental account at the conclusion of the semester unless special accommodations are made with the CTL director.

To make a proposal, please email Dr. Tom Carskadon, FYE Director, at tomcarskadon@psychology.msstate.edu and Dr. Linda Morse, CTL DIrector, at lmorse@colled.msstate.edu with an outline of the purpose, nature, and content of the proposed Learning Community. Include information on which faculty and department will provide the Learning Community. If we need further or more detailed information, we will reply and discuss with you. Otherwise, we will simply evaluate the proposal and be in contact with a decision as promptly as possible.

Preferred deadline for new proposals is Friday, October 28, 2016. Proposals will be selected on a competitive basis. Prior Learning Communities have evidenced significant faculty creativity and ingenuity, and they have provided students with uniquely valuable and enjoyable experiences. Please consider contributing in your own way to this program. Proposals received after October 28, 2016, will still be considered until funds run out.