Cohorts and/or Collaborative Learning
Cohorts refer to a group of students who are working together programmatically or taking courses together. Learning communities integrate learning across courses and involve students with “big questions” that matter beyond the classroom. Cohorts or learning communities may explore a common topic and/or common readings through the lenses of different disciplines or programs. Collaborative learning experiences combine two key goals: 1) learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and 2) sharpening one’s own understanding by listening to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Collaborative learning experiences can include a set of required common programs or courses, or an organized general education program that includes advanced integrative studies or required participation in a learning community.
Many colleges and universities now emphasize courses and programs that help students explore, evaluate, and reflect on cultures, life experiences, backgrounds, identities, and worldviews different from their own. These studies—which may address U.S. diversity, world cultures, or both—often explore “difficult differences” such as racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or continuing struggles around the globe for human rights, freedom, and power. Programs and courses that explore diversity prepare students to become informed citizens with comprehensive viewpoints that better prepare them for relationships in and out of the workplace. The practice of diversity is more than acknowledging or tolerating differences and includes involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc. in a set of conscious practices.
Student learning is defined broadly in the context of the QEP as enhancing student knowledge, skills, behaviors, and/or values.
Student success is also defined broadly as improvements in key student outcomes such as student retention, completion, time to degree, placement in field, or performance in “gatekeeper” courses. (Resource Manual for The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, p. 59).