national learning communities movement, national surveys


As the modern learning community movement turns 30, it is time to determine just how many, and what type, of these programs exist at America’s colleges and universities. This article first offers a rationale for counting learning communities followed by a description of how disparate counts and unclear definitions hamper efforts to embed these programs ever more deeply into the fabric of higher education. Two “camps” of definitions are described as are existing national attempts to tally learning communities in each camp. The article concludes with recommendations that rely heavily on the collaborative spirit that animates learning communities. On its face, the (not so) simple act of counting may seem a labor-intensive sideline to the immediate task of supporting this work on individual campuses. This article makes the argument that undertaking a count aligns with efforts to improve the quality of this practice and is just the disciplined collective exercise the national movement needs as it enters its fourth decade.