The Role of the Learning Community in the Development of Discipline Knowledge and Generic Graduate Outcomes
In this paper we describe a study of learning outcomes at a research-intensive Australian university. Three graduate outcome variables (discipline knowledge and skills, communication and problem solving, and ethical and social sensitivity) are analysed separately using OLS regression and comparisons are made of the patterns of unique contributions from four independent variables (the CEQ Good Teaching and Learning Communities Scales, and two new, independent, scales for measuring Teaching and Program Quality). Further comparisons of these patterns are made across the Schools of the university. Results support the view that teaching and program quality are not the only important determinants of students' learning outcomes. It is concluded that, whilst it continues to be appropriate for universities to be concerned with the quality of their teaching and programs, the interactive, social and collaborative aspects of students' learning experiences, captured in the notion of the Learning Community, are also very important determinants of graduate outcomes, and so should be included in the focus of attempts at enhancing the quality of student learning.