UW Continuum College Instructor Resources

Creating a Learning Community

UW PCE certificate students laud the cohort model and cite this as a primary reason why they choose our programs over those that are available at other institutions. As students study together over six to nine months, they develop lasting professional relationships enriching their educational experience. As a certificate instructor, you have a wonderful opportunity to create a dynamic course environment each and every time you meet with your students by encouraging collaboration, creating an atmosphere of trust and prompting networking.


Fostering Collaboration

Find a program/project/collaborative activity on which students can work either during part of a class session or over several sessions during the quarter. Provide students with the opportunity to develop as a learning community by consistently allotting sufficient time to work on programs, projects, or collaborative activities together. Among adult learners, the jigsaw method has proven to be successful when the class is divided into several teams, with each team preparing separate but related assignments. Once all the team members are ready, the class is redistributed into mixed groups, with one member from each team in each group. Each person in the group teaches the rest of the group what they’ve learned, and the group then works on an assignment together that draws together all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.


Creating an atmosphere of trust

Establish a friendly, open atmosphere that shows students that you will help them learn. Moderate the level of stress as adult learners  learn best under low to moderate stress. Too much stress can be a barrier to learning.  Tap the experiences of the participants thereby recognizing and valuing what they bring to the course. Create a course in which students feel that they are in charge of their own learning.  Avoid embarrassing students by putting them on the spot. For example, if you ask the class a question, give them an opportunity to think about the question and even discuss with another student before you open up the conversation to the entire class.

Create an egalitarian culture in the course by defining student roles. It is important for students to know that they are equally responsible for creating a dynamic learning environment in course activities, online discussions, group projects, lectures, etc.


Encouraging Networking

Encourage students to network with each other in class and after the certificate concludes via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, etc.


Video Resources

Increasing Class Participation (6:45)