Pre Nursing Learning Community Photo

The learning community concept was initially framed to help developmental students succeed in the community college setting.  The two key elements of a learning community are a cohort model, and interdisciplinary education.  The learning community is considered a high impact practice in higher education.

A cohort model puts students together in common classes where they can build strong, supportive relationships with faculty and peers.

Interdisciplinary education is achieved by linking courses or elements within courses.  Students work on projects or assignments which satisfy objectives in multiple disciplines.

For example, students may visit a cadaver exhibit and compose an academic portfolio:

  • For biology, students sketch and label the human body; describe a salient body system; make inferences about health and disease from observation of the cadavers
  • for chemistry, students research the plastination method of cadaver preservation
  • for English, students reflect upon their expectations of seeing a dead body and explore the ethics of cadaver display

This portfolio of artifacts is then presented in written form, presented orally, and curated for display in a common campus space.

Lourdes University launched the first Pre-Nursing Learning Community in Fall 2007 and has taught 8 cohorts so far.  Our retention numbers have been very strong with an average of 82% 2-year retention rate and average of 40% 4-year retention rate.  Graduation rates are better than 50%. Students who do not continue in Nursing—for academic or personal reasons—are advised into alternative programs such as Education, Social Work, and Business.

Our current cohort size of 16 students maximum is dictated by seats in the lab.  The 2015–2016 PNLC comprises the following 9 courses:

  • BIO/BIL 330 & 331 Human Anatomy & Physiology Lecture & Lab; 2 semesters
  • CHM/CHL 140 General, Organic & Biological Chemistry Lecture & Lab; 1 semester
  • ENG 101/102 Composition I (Essay Writing) & II (Research & Writing); 2 semesters
  • FYE 100 The Lourdes Experience; 1 semester

In addition, the PNLC has a dedicated Structured Learning Assistance (SLA) section run by trained peer coaches selected from successful PNLC graduates by the faculty.

For more information on the Pre-Nursing Learning Community, contact Dr. Christine Boudrie, Associate Professor at 419-517-8935 or

Learning Communities Graphic