college-cohortWhen beginning a college degree, students are increasingly likely to be introduced to a college cohort program. The foundation of the college cohort idea is to improve study and classwork. In an effort to improve educational experiences and outcomes, these types of collaborative groups are becoming an integral part of both online and on-campus curricula.

Basics of a College Cohort Program

Some education research suggests that the more support a student has during pursuit of a degree, the more likely it is that a student will succeed. Essentially, a college cohort program creates a group of students to create that support. College cohorts also often improve faculty and student interaction. This group might go through several courses together or be placed in the same courses throughout an entire degree program.

In these types of groups, students have the ability to form tight-knit peer networks, creating a more open and productive classroom environment and increasing the likelihood of peer interaction outside of class in study groups and other support activities. Research also suggests the positive environment created by cohorts at the collegiate level improves learning for each student in the group as well as retention and graduation rates. For additional information on the principles of a college cohort program, visit the report by the National Center for Postsecondary Research.

College Cohorts in the Online Campus

In online courses, students most often complete assignments, tests, and discussion posts in an asynchronous environment where tasks are completed without simultaneous contact or discussion with other students or instructors. For some students, this can create a lack of connection, a lack of urgency, and camaraderie in the classroom. In response, many online programs have added the college cohort principle in order to increase interaction in online classrooms and create a sense of togetherness between the students.

For most online programs, this means that students are enrolled and are placed into a group with other students, usually in the same major course of study. For the duration of the completion of a degree, students will remain in that same group. In some cases, colleges and universities also have the same instructor teach several of the courses throughout a course of study. For example, rather than having two different instructors teach composition I and composition II, the same instructor would teach both courses.

College Cohorts and Learning Communities in On-Campus Programs

In degree programs at universities and community colleges, college cohort programs often take the form of a learning community. Learning communities are the grouping of courses under the same theme. For instance, a learning community might combine a beginning level psychology, sociology, and literature course. In each of the courses, the textbooks, materials, and assignments will all focus on one central theme such as volunteer service. Every student is enrolled in the same three courses, working together. The instructors of each course also work together to build assignments from one another and make a deep connection between the disciplines in each course.

Colleges and universities continue to research and develop programs and assistance for students in order to find ways to improve the student experience, learning, and outcomes and objectives of individual courses and programs. College cohorts are one of those increasingly popular options for enhancing student success.

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