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General Education Curriculum: Learning Community criteria

Learning Community:  Any one of a variety of curricular structures that link together several existing courses—or actually restructure the material entirely—so that students have opportunities for deeper understanding and integration of the material they are learning, and more interaction with one another and their teachers as fellow participants in the learning enterprise.

Gabelnick, MacGregor, Matthews, and Smith (qtd. in Karen Spear’s

“Liberal Education:  by Proclamation or Design?”)


Learning Communities are intentionally designed structures that encourage students to integrate what they are learning in their various studies, disciplines, and experiences, and also to connect to each other through ongoing extra-curricular interaction.  Learning Communities at Benedictine can take different forms but should include all of the following:

  • An emphasis on working cooperatively as a member of a team 
  • An interdisciplinary approach and an emphasis on integrating knowledge
  • Exploring connections between classroom knowledge and experiences outside the classroom
  • An assignment that requires some form of reflection

There are three basic models of learning communities that are offered at Benedictine University.

  • Stand-alone Learning Community: (Not a formal course but includes all the requirements of learning communities, namely, group work, connecting learned knowledge with experiences outside the classroom, and reflection. Examples include Living Learning Communities, Intercultural Engagement, minor in Catholic Studies, MOSAIC, and study away/abroad experiences not tied to a course).
  • Single-course Learning Community: Connected to a course that includes collaborative projects and teamwork, as well as the other requirements of learning communities. Examples include Benedictine’s Model U.N. program, which is connected to PLSC 215, music ensemble courses, and study abroad tied to a course.
  • Two-course Learning Community:  Co-enrollment in two courses crossing programs, and including interdisciplinary learning and work. Examples include Emerging Scholars courses.  Also possible are a Three-course Learning Community (a 3-course grouping related to a common theme and interdisciplinary), or Four-course Learning Community, a general education “concentration” consisting of a 4-course grouping related to a common theme and interdisciplinary. Examples include the Scholars Program.

Students enroll in a learning community by registering in a specific LCOM. Some may require co-registration in a designated course.

An approved Learning Community will be assigned a LCOM course number.  

Goals Chart for the Syllabus

Complete the chart and place it in your syllabus.  A downloadable version is below the table.


Activities and Assessments

1 Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
d. Work cooperatively as a member of a team


4 Global Perspective
b. Understand the benefits of diversity of perspectives, abilities, and cultures



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