“Learning communities provide life-based learning and opportunities for students to form bonds and explore current topics.”
Amy Allen-Chabot spends most of her time studying nutrition and raising her three-year old son. But for the past year and a half, her plate has had another challenging initiative on it. Amy has been working with English professor Verna Robinson to spearhead a thematic learning communities program at AACC. This program groups two or more courses around a current theme. Each theme-based grouping of courses will enroll a common group of students in a given semester.
Amy came to AACC in August of 2000, after running a graduate program at the University of North Florida for several years. The university was in the process of building a learning cluster program while she was there. When she came to AACC she learned that Verna Robinson had done a similar program with developmental classes at AACC.
“The world is not made up of five distinct topics that never mix,” said Amy. “The world is a mixture of different disciplines and learning communities provide students with a learning experience where they can apply what they are learning in one discipline to another. It better prepares them for the decision-making they’ll have to do in their everyday lives. It can help students form bonds and improve student performance.”
AACC offered six learning clusters in fall 2006 term, including two developmental communities targeted toward Summer Bridge and SASP students and four general education communities. The general education communities will include women’s studies, history, oral communication, environmental science, and literature classes. Students are encouraged to register early if they wish to participate in any of the communities. General education communities are also offered in the spring 2007 term.
As an associate professor of biology, Amy teaches principles of nutrition, food science, and weight management. Coming from a family where obesity was the norm on the female side, Amy realized early on that she had to pay attention to diet and exercise if she wanted to avoid that fate. Amy explained that there are a lot of biological factors that affect how difficult it is to maintain a certain body weight. After taking a world hunger class in college, Amy knew that she wanted to study nutrition. She hopes to one day go to a developing country and help people with micronutrient deficiency.
“I want my students to be able to critically evaluate information because there is a lot of inaccurate information on nutrition out there,” said Amy. “I want them to be enthusiastic about nutrition, health, science, and learning.”
Amy found the support, opportunities, and challenges she was looking for at AACC. She gets to teach, develop innovative teaching tools, and continue learning all the time.
“I like the support faculty get for doing innovative things,” said Amy. “I like that the emphasis here is on teaching and not research. Students that come here are going to get great teachers because that is what we are supposed to be doing. I want to see the thematic learning cluster program thrive and grow, so that each student has the chance to participate in at least one cluster while they are here. I also want to keep learning and developing teaching and self-assessment tools for my students.”
Interested in learning more about Amy’s experience or the thematic learning communities program? Send her an e-mail!