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Learning Communities

Frequently Asked Questions

How is a coordinated studies class different from a regular class?

A coordinated studies class is typically 10 credits and brings together two different disciplines around a common theme. For example, a course titled "Tricksters and Messiahs: Native American Spirituality" brings together anthropology and English (See link for current CS offerings). The course is designed by the two instructors to be integrated as much as possible, with assignments planned to demonstrate and explore the connections between the two subject areas. This means that in a typical 10 credit class, both faculty and students meet together for two hours (or the equivalent) each day, for a total of ten hours a week (depending on the type of class). By exploring a common topic from the viewpoint of several disciplines, you learn to make connections and are able to reach a deeper, more complex understanding of the topic.

What are the advantages of a coordinated studies class?

  • You benefit by getting to know each other and being part of a learning community. Since building community is an important part of a coordinated studies class, you will often work together in seminars, peer review workshops, group projects or presentations and sometimes, community projects.
  • You benefit by developing the ability to think critically, make connections, and see a topic from a variety of diverse viewpoints.
  • You benefit by having your instructors working together to plan assignments; this means that you are less likely to have several assignments due on the same day, which can happen in two stand-alone classes.
  • You benefit by being able to take two classes back-to-back, making for a more efficient schedule, especially for those who are also working.
  • You benefit by learning more about being part of a community and solving problems together.
  • You benefit by being encouraged to assume responsibility for your own learning, a valuable habit for life-long learning.

How often are coordinated studies classes repeated?

Each year, faculty apply to teach coordinated studies classes. Due to instructor availability, department needs, and student enrollments, some coordinated studies classes may not be repeated, or not for several years. It is a good idea to enroll in a coordinated studies class you are interested in when you see it offered, rather than waiting and hoping it will be offered again.

Where did the philosophy of coordinated studies and other learning communities originate?

While the philosophy that shaped learning communities has been around for a long time, the program itself in Washington was formalized when the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education was established in 1985 at The Evergreen State College. The Washington Center provides an opportunity to share existing resources through collaboration among member institutions. (See Resources link for more information)

Will I get the same grade in both classes?

It varies. In some classes you will; but in others you'll get two separate grades. However, even when there are two separate grades, part of each grade might be "shared" between the two coordinated classes. An example of this would be when both teachers require a final group project that involves knowledge and abilities from both classes, and both teachers would count that project as 15% of their total grade.

What if you need only one of the classes?

Find a stand-alone class to take because coordinated studies classes are just that, coordinated. You must be registered in both.

What if you have the pre-requisites for one of the classes but not the other?

Same answer as above: you need to be able to register for both classes.

Are the instructors both there the whole time?

Yes. One of the many advantages of a coordinated studies class is that both instructors know what is being covered in the other class. In fact, they plan their classes so that they mesh together as much as possible.

Are coordinated studies harder or more work?

You'll have as much work as you would have if you had taken the two classes separately. What will be different is that the work will be more interesting because you are learning about the similarities and differences in ways of thinking in each subject. The courses will not be harder; they'll be more connected, which might even make them somewhat easier. Even if they are not easier, they'll be more interesting, and you'll have the advantage of a community of learners (your peers and instructors) to work and study with.

Where do I find out more information?

If your question is a general one, you will probably be able to find the answer by using the hyperlinks on this page. If you have specific questions about one or both of the courses that are being coordinated, you can call the instructor(s). Find their names in the class schedule and then call 425.640.1500 and the operator will help you if you push zero.