Level up your education and well-being with communities of learning

The start of a new term is a great time to reset and reflect on your learning strategies. Ask yourself, how effective are they, and what impact do they have on your overall well-being?

January 20, 2023

By: Karen Rosenberg, PhD, Academic Skills Program Coordinator (Graduate Writing Specialist)

Originally published in the Silhouette

When I was an undergrad and I got stressed out by my workload, I’d retreat. I’d study by myself until I felt caught up or ran out of steam. I got the job done, but my isolation strategy was more painful (and lonely!) than it needed to be. When I was in graduate school and studied about how people learn, I realized that I had missed out on one of the great opportunities of university life: learning alongside others.

Research shows that participating in communities of learning can enhance student learning and help students overcome challenges (Matthews et al., 2012). As a university student, you’re already part of communities of learning, whether you realize it or not. Classes, study groups, workshops and clubs are all environments where you get to learn alongside others and support one another’s success.  

Here are some ways that you can make the most of communities of learning this term.

Take an inventory. What communities are you already in?

Consider the benefits and limitations of each one. In a large lecture class, for example, you may find that you’re learning a lot of new material, but you may not feel comfortable getting answers to all of your questions.

Reflect. How can you get the most out of your communities of learning?

One of the major shifts from secondary to post-secondary education is that you have a lot more control over (and responsibility for!) your learning. Ask yourself what you can do to get the most out of each community of learning. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to engage is to support the other learners in your communities.

Check out some new learning opportunities beyond the classroom.

As you figure out what January Reset means for you, consider joining some new communities of learning. Take some risks and try new things!

Talk to your friends and classmates. Attend workshops based on your goals for the term. Make connections at on-campus events that could lead to new study groups and other activities outside the classroom.

Check out the January Reset page on the Student Success Centre website for more ways to get involved.

Matthews, R. S., Smith, B. L., & MacGregor, J. (2012). The evolution of learning communities: A retrospective. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2012(132), 99–111.