Date of Conferral

2014

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Kymberly Rynearson

Abstract

Low graduation rates are a significant issue for colleges. The majority of higher education institutions in the United States offer learning communities (LCs), which have been found to be effective for improving course success and persisting to the next semester. However, there is a gap in the literature regarding the effectiveness of LCs with different types of populations and different types of LCs. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to identify the most effective types of LCs. Research questions addressed the effects of different types of LCs on different student success outcomes for community colleges. The study was based on Tinto's interactionist model of student departure and Astin's model of student involvement. Studies examining the relationship between student success and participation in college LCs provided the data for the meta-analysis. A random effects model was used to generate the average effect size for 39 studies and 50 individual effect sizes. The results showed that LCs are most effective with community college students when they include additional support strategies, counseling is available to students, one of the linked courses is an academic skills course, at least one of the linked course is developmental, and the focus is on increasing course success or student engagement. The implications for positive social change suggest that LC programs implement two linked courses, include an academic skills course, focus on developmental courses, and provide access to a counselor and additional student support strategies. In addition, LC programs are most effective when the goals of the program are student engagement and course success.