Learning Communities

Since the spring of 2004, the Office of Faculty and Organizational Development (F&OD) has been supporting Faculty Learning Communities (FLC’s). The groups consist of faculty, academic staff, and academic administrators, who have an interest in and commitment to attending discussion sessions on a regular basis throughout the academic year on a topic they propose.

We will consider any idea, but this year we are particularly interested in a proposal (or proposals) for learning communities that explore what kind of university we want to be.

With the reorganization of F&OD, the Academic Advancement Network (AAN) has explored teaching and learning development opportunities that provide greater and lasting impact on educators. According to Beach, Sorcinelli, Austin, & Rivard (2016), learning communities have been found to have the most impact on “(learning) environments that advance teaching knowledge and behaviors, increase faculty understanding of how students learn, and foster long-term change in faculty member’s instructional choices” (p. 79). Learning communities provide the benefit of community that supports exploration, discussion and growth, and as relationships strengthen around important teaching and learning topics, so does expertise and community that benefits the institution (Cox, 2001).

Learning communities provide opportunities for educators to gather and share artifacts of their developing as well as expert practice in the competencies over time. Educators can share both successes and challenges in a supportive environment of peers and facilitators. Learning communities are intended to encourage the development and support of more high-impact and evidence-based practices.

Structure & Expectations

The proposal requires (1) two facilitators to be named, (2) the identification of a focus, topic or theme, (3) the rationale or need for the group, (4) proposed goals and outcomes, (5) possible members and targeted participants, (6) an audience for the dissemination of the work, and (7) the articulation of an evaluation process for the group. Facilitators organize monthly meetings and direct the creation of a poster that highlights their work throughout the year. Over the years, some learning communities have undertaken projects that have seeded larger institution initiatives that support important teaching and learning efforts. Facilitators will be asked to draft summary reports at mid-year as well as at the end of the year

Funding

A proposed budget is a requirement for consideration of each proposal requesting support. If funds for cost-sharing are available with other units, please note these commitments as well.

Sustainability

Functioning and productive groups are eligible for continued funding on an annual basis. To request continued support, facilitators are required to submit a proposal each year beyond the first when the call for learning communities is announced in February.

2018-19 Proposal Form

Proposals may be submitted via Qualtrics until 5 PM on October 2, 2018.

References

Beach, A. L., Sorcinelli, M. D., Austin, A. E., & Rivard, J. K. (2016). Faculty development in the age of evidence: Current practices, future imperatives. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Cox, M. D. (2001). 5: Faculty Learning Communities: Change Agents for Transforming Institutions into Learning Organizations. To improve the academy, 19(1), 69-93.