Dr. Paul LaVergne, Vaughn College’s chair of the arts and sciences department, held a workshop on the morning of November 17 at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics of New York City (ATMNYC) at Hunter College. His presentation topic was on the design and implementation of a STEM-related learning community.  Highlights of his session included Vaughn’s deep experience in this area with an emphasis on the benefits that can be gained through such a learning community.

Examples of the possibilities of combining math and physics with other subjects like writing and technology were reviewed. Dr. LaVergne brought the learning community concept to Vaughn three years ago as the result of a multimillion dollar grant awarded by the US Department of Education. “Our goal was to engage students in course material in a manner that helped them to see the interconnectedness of what they were learning.”

In these learning communities, students take two courses simultaneously, in a deeper and more integrated manner with at least three intersection points. For instance, by combining thermal analysis and differential equations, students have the opportunity to understand physical phenomena in concrete mathematical terms. Students in learning communities are better connected to each other and share more meaningful engagement with the course material.

“It was great to be asked to speak at this conference and be able to showcase Vaughn’s success in this area,” said Dr. LaVergne. “Seeing trends and meaning across the curriculum is key to students’ ability to retain and absorb the critical skills for lifelong learning.”