humanities, working class students, underprepared students


How do you teach the humanities to working class students living in the shadow of a BP oil refinery?

Calumet College uses freshman learning communities that link humanities, social justice, and English composition classes to provide a foundation for college success to predominantly first-generation students who are often underprepared for college-level courses. This article describes the program, including the curricular linkages between the classes. Retention results between students who took stand-alone classes are compared to students who participated in loosely linked learning communities and closely linked learning communities. In addition, data from a pre- and post-course assessment of students’ knowledge of general humanities concepts is included. A notable finding was the consistently higher performance of cohorts enrolled in closely linked learning communities, those in which the instructors shared assignments, responded to ideas raised in their colleagues’ classes, and met regularly to discuss students’ needs.

Ginger G. Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor of English at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Indiana.

Christopher Buczinsky is an Associate Professor and Director of the English Program at Calumet College of St. Joseph.