Skagit Valley College

Learning Communities At SVC

Innovative Learning

Skagit Valley College has been offering Learning Communities (LCs) since 1986 and has included them in degree requirements for transfer students since 1993. Because of this aspect of our innovative degree program, college teams come from all over the country to study our program, and Skagit is highlighted in a number of books and articles about important reforms in college education.

Skagit offers a wide variety of LCs in several different formats:

  • Most LCs are paired courses that are team-taught, with faculty for each class in the classroom at all times and the coursework fully integrated. Examples: Feast or Famine (Nutrition and Sociology); Northwest Indians Rock! (Earth Science and Ethnic Studies); and Sex.comm. (Human Sexuality and Mass Communication).
  • LCs that include a writing course are structured as "links," with one or more overlapping assignments and a variety of possible course structures. Examples: "Know What I Mean?" (History of Jazz and English Composition); Thinking the Unthinkable (Political Science and English Composition); and Place/Time/View (Introduction to Art and English Composition).
  • In other LCs - for instance, those designed for science majors on the Mount Vernon campus - small groups of students from several different courses will co-enroll in one course and, together, will explore issues related to their major field of study. Example: students who enroll in Celluloid Science take Introduction to Film and one of a number of science courses.

Most Learning Communities emphasize collaborative, interdisciplinary learning. Students work together in small and large groups and often prepare projects, panels, or papers that show their understanding of the connections between the two fields of study.

  • Students in Stating the Matter (Chemistry and English composition) analyze articles and publications about global warming and water pollution to determine the scientific merit of the claims being argued for papers that they write for English.
  • Students in Music Makes the World Go Round (World History and World Music) learn to understand cultural expression and the limitations of cultural conditions by locating "found objects" and turning those into musical instruments, for instance, PVC pan pipes and chimes made from horse shoes.
  • Science majors in Celluloid Science study how films portray scientists and analyze the accuracy of scientific practice and concepts in films. Each week, a different member of the science faculty analyzes that week's film from the perspective of his/her particular discipline and student panels present their own analysis.