Posts by apaasch

The Power of a Cohort

As, I think upon my own educational experiences, along with my experiences here during my first three years here at NWTC as an instructor , I am fascinated at the potential power of a cohort.  Some of the best learning experiences that I have ever had both in my education, and professional lives have been in a Cohort.

In this SPARK post, I will share what I think are the benefits of a cohort.

The Cohort Understands

As you all probably know, our students come to school with a lot on their plate.  For the most part, they work one, two or even three jobs, have many family responsibilities and additional financial obligations.  This is all before they enter our classroom.  As you can see this can be pretty stressful.  Cohorts can become an important support network with those who share your educational goals. You will be able to share coping skills and create a strong support network with those who understand the challenges you face, they “get it.”

Do you ever have a class that works so well together, the discussion is flowing and you are sad to see the class come to an end?  I wonder how successful these students would have been had they continued together.  I wonder if there are occasions where we have students that would not have dropped out, or at least slowed their pace, had they had a cohort, or someone to vent to or share their experiences with.


As I began my IPA experiences fall of 2011, I was apprehensive.  I would be disingenuous to suggest that my thoughts were occupied with anything other than what was ahead of me, specifically preparing my classes for the start of the semester.  As a group, we had to complete the 7 Wisconsin Technical College courses, within our first three years.  This seemed like a tedious requirement, as we would have to meet together as a group 3 plus times per semester.  Luckily, I had underestimated the power of the cohort and collaboration in reaching those goals. This is something that became self-evident as the boot camp and first semester progressed.

A cohort’s power can be seen directly from my experiences in IPA.  Being an instructor in the Business and Information Technology department, my closest colleagues are specifically in the programs where I teach.  I have good relationships with a lot of faculty and staff, but I really don’t know much about their work or life balances.  My IPA cohort, on the other hand, encompasses new instructors from throughout the college.   Hearing each other’s’ perspectives have given us all a greater understanding of the bigger picture, and we’ve already identified many ways we can help each other succeed.

As I pursue my MBA, and my Technical College Certification, my IPA cohort has become an important aspect of my social life.  They also “get it”. While I have the most supportive wife who is supportive of my work and education, she isn’t undergoing the lived experience.

I am now in the final semester of my third and final year of IPA.  I am kind of saddened as a student to see this cohort come to an end.  Hopefully some form of the cohort continues forward.