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program design & management

Evidence-based Strategies - Examples, Research and Tools


Strategy e: Develop student “cohorts” – groups of students who participate together in program activities (e.g. study groups, goal-related workshops, classes) as a learning community.


Getting into Groups
Michael Pritza
In Gilmer County, Georgia, a shift from individualized instruction to classes and discussion groups increased student persistence and participation. Importantly, the topics for the discussion groups were selected by the students, and participation was open to all students regardless of level.

A Slow Conversion to Reading Groups
Susan Watson
Reading groups here, where students chose and discussed readings, led to four and five level gains in reading within six weeks, and increased attendance and GED test scores. Notably, students also began to take initiative to discuss and read books on their own.  The reading groups marked the program’s shift from individualized instruction to classes.


Power of Cohort and Collaborative Groups
Eleanor Drago-Severson, Deborah Helsing, Robert Kegan, Nancy Popp, Maria Broderick, & Kathryn Portnow
This study found that despite differences in the cohort design across three programs, the interpersonal relationships that students developed made a critical difference to their academic learning, emotional and psychological well-being, and ability to broaden their perspectives and persistence.  The participants valued highly their sense of belonging in the group and benefited substantially from their cohort experiences.  The authors recommend that since adult learners make sense of group learning activities in qualitatively different ways, they need different forms of both support and challenge to benefit more fully from them.

Will Cooperative Learning Affect GED Retention?
Mary Jeannette Kelly
Student persistence increased from 57.3% to 85.7% in this GED class after cooperative learning was implemented by the teacher.  The teacher also observed an “increasingly relaxed class atmosphere” where students were more at ease with one another.