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The Importance of Classroom Environments in the Assessment of Learning Community Outcomes

Researchers typically focus on the defining features of learning communities and frequently examine how those features influence student achievement. Occasionally, researchers evaluate whether structural and programmatic variations across different types of learning community programs have an effect on academic and social outcomes. In this study, the focus is on differences among the sections within one first-year learning community program and the associations between these differences and measures of student achievement. These learning community sections vary considerably, and persistence and grades are higher for first-year students from learning communities that provide a strong sense of community, in which instructors are engaged and approachable, and where a strong and visible linkage exists between instructors, subject matter, and course organization.