A cohort is a group of learners who collaborate. Cohorts attend class and study as a community, sharing ideas, knowledge and wisdom. The idea of the cohort came as educators and psychologists began to better understand how people learn. Research shows that one of the key factors in learning is the impact of community—the people with and from whom we learn. Cohort learning provides an active, interactive and dynamic setting for students to grow their knowledge and skills, foster creativity, and encourage success among themselves. It’s far from perfect, but it’s another educational step forward in training students to function more effectively in their communities, families, and workplaces.
In our educational context, a cohort is a group of students that matriculates together over the course of their years in the program. Each year, a new cohort of 20-25 students begins. The students take the same courses at the same time, which allows for them to grow together and learn from each other. The cohort model has proven to successfully break down many of the factors that typically divide inmates in prisons. These divisions are replaced by a sense of camaraderie and the formation of a unified and mutually-supportive group of academically-minded students who are dedicated to their studies. These students serve as role models to their fellow inmates and to their own children. There are currently five cohorts at the Turney Center Industrial Complex, and two cohorts at Northwest Correctional Complex.