Learning Communities in the Classroom

This page last changed on Jan 23, 2008 by wikiadm1.

Introduction to Learning Communities

Many schools continue to operate using traditional methods that support individual learning and performances in which all students reach the same set goal. Yet, large numbers of studies indicate that students learn best in situations of social interaction and through activities that take into account the multiple pathways by which they learn. These studies support the prevailing theories of learning that consider social interaction essential for real understanding. Teachers can provide the social interaction students need by designing instructional plans that integrate learning communities in the classroom. Learning communities, small groups of students in the classroom that work cooperatively to build knowledge, can expand learning from that which the individual may gain alone to a larger shared pool of knowledge from the group. In this knowledge building venture, students also gain verbal, collaborative, metacognitive, and social skills which will benefit them throughout life.

This course seeks to help teachers understand how and why the development of learning communities within the classroom will benefit both students and teachers. It is divided into three units. To facilitate the reader in making connections between the material presented here and personal experiences, a reflection area is included at the end of each unit. Please take the time to write down your thoughts on these questions, and discuss them with others if possible. Through these reflections, you will develop a better understanding of how you might best incorporate this practice into your classroom.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this mini-course, you should be able to:

  • recognize the importance of creating learning communities in the classroom
  • describe the ways in which students benefit from learning communities
  • create a plan for incorporating learning communities in your classroom

Unit One - Foundations in Theory

Unit Two - Defining Learning Community

Unit Three - Learning Communities in Action