Maureen Connolly, Elmhurst College,IL
Whether you are a recent college grad or you
have been active in academia for a while, you may want to recall your experiences
as an undergraduate. What trepidations did you bring to your freshman
year? How did you feel about the general education requirements?
What helped you get through the maze of college life?
Postsecondary educators have been considering many of these questions, and the result is a strong emphasis on the learner and learning environment. Both longitudinal and policy studies (eight cited by the authors) have concluded with this emphasis and have formed a basis of support for a rebirth of learning community models. The Shapiro/Levine book is an attempt to define a learning community and describe the four basic models as well as to provide a comprehensive guide to creating an appropriate learning community model for an individual's campus.
Shapiro and Levine are both directors of learning communities, and they write with the expertise of those who have enjoyed successes but have also experienced the pitfalls. They consider all aspects of a college that are affected by a creation of a learning community. Topics range from faculty roles to registrar concerns to the incorporation of service learning actvities. Examples are based not only on their personal stories but also on the experiences of other community colleges, small and large baccalaureate colleges, and research institutions. In addition, readers will find a resource list of contacts at a variety of institutions with whom they can engage in further conversation.
Creating Learning Communities, although sometimes repetitive, certainly offers a fresh look at undergraduate education. The described models show an integration of ideas in an environment which appears to be enthusiastically received by faculty and students alike.