Overall, the effects of linked learning communities on academic achievement, degree attainment, postsecondary enrollment, credit accumulation, and progress in developmental education for postsecondary students were neither statistically significant nor large enough to be considered to be substantively important. Therefore, the WWC considers linked learning communities to have no discernible effects on these outcomes for community college students in developmental education.
Linked learning communities in postsecondary education are programs defined by having social and curricular linkages that provide undergraduate students with intentional integration of the themes and concepts that they are learning. Linked learning communities are based on the theory that active learning in a community-based setting can improve academic outcomes by increasing social as well as academic integration. To that end, linked learning communities tend to incorporate two characteristics: a shared intellectual theme with a linked or integrated curriculum and a community or common cohort of learners.
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified six studies of linked learning communities in postsecondary education that both fall within the scope of the Developmental Students in Postsecondary Education topic area and meet WWC group design standards. All six studies meet WWC standards without reservations. Together, these studies included about 7,400 undergraduate students across six community colleges.
The WWC considers the extent of evidence for linked learning communities to be medium to large for four outcome domains—academic achievement, postsecondary enrollment, credit accumulation, and progress in developmental education. These outcomes were assessed in all six of the studies that met WWC group design standards. The WWC considers the extent of evidence for linked learning communities to be small for one outcome domain—degree attainment.