Interdisciplinary Learning Works: The Results of a Comprehensive Assessment of Students and Student Learning Outcomes in an Integrative Learning Community
This article describes the development, implementation, and results of an extensive assessment of students and student learning outcomes in an interdisciplinary, integrative learning community. This assessment project took a comprehensive view of student learning by examining specific data and direct and indirect measures of academic growth for each learner, from high school GPAs and perceptions about academic preparation upon matriculation, to the development of critical and creative thinking skills while participating in the first-year learning community, to student engagement levels in their senior year. Where applicable, data were compared to data for students who did not participate in the learning community. The results of this panoramic assessment project indicate that interdisciplinary learning and learning community practices are effective in promoting academic improvement, retention, development of general education skills, and high levels of student engagement and can provide first-year students with an academic edge that follows them through their undergraduate careers. The article further discusses the value of using this type of 360-degree assessment to inform curricular decisions as well as to create institutional support for interdisciplinary, student-centered learning.
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