Description: This observational study involving intact groups and convenient sampling examined learning communities at four North Texas Community Colleges. The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a significant difference in cathectic learning climate, inimical ambiance, academic rigor, affiliation and structure among students in learning communities and freestanding classes. Learning communities are gaining nationwide popularity as instruments of reform in Higher Education. Recent studies have discussed the benefits of learning communities to student, faculty and institutions. As learning communities are gaining popularity, especially at the community college level, there is a need to determine if the learning communities are significantly different than freestanding classes. The College Classroom Environment Scales, developed by Winston, Vahala, Nichols, Gillis, Wintrow, and Rome (1989), was used as the survey instrument for this study. Using SPSS 10.1, a multivariate analysis of variance, (Hotelling's T2) was performed on five dependent variables: cathectic learning climate (CLC), inimical ambiance (IA), academic rigor (AR), affiliation (AF), and structure (ST), which yielded a significant difference. The independent variable was learning community compared to freestanding classes (group). Follow-up independent t tests were also conducted to evaluate the differences in the means between the two groups and to explore which dependent variables contributed to the multivariate difference, which resulted in significant differences in inimical ambiance, affiliation and structure. The researcher concludes that learning communities make a difference for some learners, but not necessarily all and that more research needs to be conducted to find the answers to the questions concerning the efficacy and sustainability of learning communities in higher education.
Date: August 2002
Creator: Dodd, Patricia M.
Item Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Partner: UNT Libraries