place-based, communication-intensive, integrated assignments, flexible scheduling, learning communities


This article describes the design of a learning community that paired an English Composition and a Public Speaking course at the New York City College of Technology (City Tech) and explains the embedded teaching strategies: flexible scheduling, integrated assignments, and a place-based (Brooklyn) focus. These tactics, developed with the aim of engaging first-semester students in their general-education communication courses, served to orient students to City Tech and its neighboring environment. Flexible scheduling helped avoid making concessions due to time constraints and allowed for greater fairness and efficiency, while also expanding opportunities for classroom and out-of-classroom activities. Designing overlapping assignments helped students by scaffolding coursework throughout the semester, building toward increasingly challenging course objectives. The place-based focus on Brooklyn oriented students to the campus, supported their ability to find nearby places that expanded their campus experience, and gave them tools for interacting critically with their surroundings. Grounded in maker pedagogy, the semester’s final project asked students to make a shared Google Map that included their videos and summaries of their research, creating a virtual tour of downtown Brooklyn. Ultimately, these strategies supported better student success and engagement in the courses while providing a creative outlet for successful college work.

Jody R. Rosen is an Assistant Professor of English and Co-Director of the OpenLab at New York City College of Technology, CUNY, where she teaches in the First-Year Learning Community program each fall semester. Her scholarship focuses on pedagogical approaches to foster community, and on Modernist narratological representations of gender and sexuality.

M. Justin Davis is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Communication Studies at Northeastern University. His research explores processes related to the production, performance, and consumption of identity, cultural memory, and public mind.