The impact of a residential learning community model on student achievement in a suburban community college

A Photography and Geology learning community called the Canyons Residential Field Studies Model (CRFSM) was examined using mixed methods at a suburban community college during fall semester of 2012 to address whether its implementation can help enrolled students succeed in higher numbers in the current economic climate of budget cuts and enrollment caps. Two residential learning community class sections in co-enrolled Introduction to Photography and Introduction to Geology classes that each incorporated two 48 hour weekend field experiences and four face-to-face class meetings were compared to 2 traditional class sections for each of these two disciplines. The CRFSM class students constituted a learning community that took a large portion of responsibility for their own learning in the courses through cooperative assignments and group work. Quantitative data was gathered using a pre- and post- ntervention engagement survey instrument that incorporated 21 Likert-scaled quantitative questions and two open-ended qualitative questions to determine whether any differences were found between these classes and traditional stand-alone campus classes in final course grades, engagement, and retention. The findings indicate no effect of the CRFSM on final course grades or retention, but the findings indicated an increase in engagement for students in the CRFSM. Qualitative results from four open-ended survey questions were also examined to determine student perceptions of the intervention and reported in the study. A majority of the intervention students reported strongly positive experiences in the class. Additional research is necessary to examine this model further.