Clustering Courses to Build Student Community
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The Dwight Look College of Engineering typically enrolls 1400 to 1700 starting freshmen each year. The majority of these freshmen take their first-year math, science, and engineering courses as a cluster. A cluster is a collection of approximately 100 students who have the same schedule for a group of three or four courses. Even though the freshman class as a whole is quite large, common course scheduling and the use of teams within individual courses promote the development of a small community atmosphere. There is much evidence of this community effect. First, clustered students generally progress more quickly through key freshman-level courses. Second, students develop strong friendships within their clusters and are likely to congregate in large groups for study and to continue clustering by coordinating their course schedules for following semesters. Finally, first and second year retention of students in clustered courses is frequently greater than for nonclustered students.
author list (cited authors)
Morgan, J., & Kenimer, A. L.