Faculty Learning Communities
Our Faculty Learning Communities (or FLCs) bring together small, inter-disciplinary groups of faculty (6 to 10), who meet twice a month each semester for an academic year to address a pedagogy or academia-related problem of mutual interest.
"FLCs are like freshman seminars for faculty"
… EJ Jung (Computer Sciences)
"I regained my addiction for learning."
… Shawn Doubiago (Comparative Literature and Culture)
At the end of the year, each group shares its findings with the university community in some way, as appropriate.
How do they work?
Participation in an Faculty Learning Community is a commitment to a deep process of learning through a diverse, intentionally-created community. Under the guiding direction of a faculty Facilitator, each group identifies a convenient time for bi-weekly meetings for two consecutive semesters, determines a method for sharing their work with the university as appropriate, and discusses a division of labor for the work to be done together over the year.
Each Facilitator gets one course load release for the year (probably best taken in the fall semester). The FLC is awarded $300 per participant, up to $3000 total, to support the work of the group and contribute to the USF community.
FLC funds may be used in a variety of ways. Past FLCs have organized events to share the group's work (such as lectures, symposia, workshops, or mini-conferences); invited visitors or speakers to campus; purchased books or materials; and supported student activities.
One key to a successful FLC is to make a topic broad enough to invite participation across disciplines and schools, but narrow enough to lead to significant benefits for faculty and students. Please see our post about FLC frequently asked questions. If you have any further questions about FLCs, please don't hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When are they offered?
We support several Faculty Learning Communities each year. Applications for these communities are accepted each spring. Each year applications are due by mid-April. We’ll select a new set of FLCs at the beginning of May.
Walking the Walk: Teaching Cultural Competence, Awareness, and Humility
Facilitator: Dellanira Garcia
By 2050, almost half of the U.S. population will be comprised of ethnic minorities (U.S. Census, 2010). USF is recognized as a “university with a global perspective that educates leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world.” In order to advance our vision, undergraduate and graduate students must learn to lead, teach, and embody culturally competent knowledge and skills. This FLC will bring faculty from multiple disciplines together to discuss the teaching of cultural competence, cultural awareness, and cultural humility. We’ll explore pedagogical exercises and innovative techniques for graduate and undergraduate courses. We’ll discuss learning outcomes in these domains for undergraduate and graduate students, explore how to develop and grade assignments, and how to effectively measure culturally competent knowledge and skills.
Multimodal Communication across the Curriculum and in the Disciplines
Facilitators: Cathy Gabor and Michelle LaVigne
This FLC will address head-on the perceived lack of expertise in teaching rhetoric, among the non-Rhetoric faculty. By forming a deep understanding of communication practices and expectations in the various disciplines represented, this FLC will allow us to define what oral and written rhetoric means in various fields, as well as discuss best pedagogical strategies for teaching students to communicate in their majors, in their future careers, and as productive citizens at and beyond USF. We will start by looking at the most notable publications on writing and communication in the majors to understand and articulate the epistemologies that inform how we conceive of and assess skillful student communication in written, oral, and digital formats. Then, we will formulate strategies for teaching communication across USF that grow out of our deep faculty collaboration.
Threshold Concepts for the Liminal Student
Facilitator: Billy Riggs
Threshold concepts are conceptual gateways that lead to previously inaccessible ways of thinking. Threshold concepts often are troublesome obstacles for students, but once grasped, they have a transformative and even irreversible impact. Members of this FLC will work together to identify threshold concepts in their fields, and to explore the pedagogical challenges and opportunities that accompany them. Our goal will be to develop new or redesigned course materials, supplemental teaching resources, and reflective narratives about our own pedagogical decisions.
Active Learning at USF
Facilitator: Susan Prion
The purpose of this Faculty Learning Community is to bring faculty and staff together to explore, share and articulate current best practices for effective active learning in our classrooms at USF. Research suggests that the incorporation of active learning encourages student engagement, reinforces concepts, provides an opportunity for students to process and create personal connections to material, and creates a sense of community. This FLC will review current literature, discuss pedagogical advantages and disadvantages of active learning, consider how to apply active learning instructional strategies across different types of learning spaces at USF, and culminate in the development of resources for the broader faculty community in their active learning endeavors.
What other FLCs have been offered?
Listed below are the Faculty Learning Communities for previous academic years as well as links to any of the group’s available findings.
Mindfulness for Faculty Well Being Facilitator: Kevin Lo. How can faculty engage in mindfulness practices for better health and well-being? How can faculty incorporate mindfulness into their teaching so that students' overall health and well-being are enhanced? This FLC will explore with other faculty how they might integrate mindfulness practices in their teaching through looking at mindfulness as 1. a practice in itself and 2. a pedagogical tool, and exploring methods for utilizing mindfulness in our classes.
Teaching Controversial Issues Facilitators: Candice Harrison and Judy Pace. At USF our Jesuit mission sets the expectation that faculty teach students to examine significant moral, social, and political questions from diverse perspectives. Our politically turbulent climate makes this expectation even more urgent. This Faculty Learning Community will explore the challenges and opportunities embedded in teaching controversial issues, and a variety of strategies to navigate them. Led by two facilitators grounded in research and practice, the FLC will explore different approaches; contextual factors such as race, class, immigration status, gender/sexuality, and religion; and dilemmas such as conflicting rights. Participants will reflect on our own and our students’ positionalities in regard to power and identity as these shape our facilitation of classroom inquiry and discourse. And we will draw on our different areas of expertise to learn from one another about controversial issues teaching informed by democratic values.
- Sustainability Across the Curriculum Facilitator: Gerard Kuperus. This FLC will explore ways to incorporate sustainability in courses taught across the university. We will examine literature and examples at other universities (such as the Piedmont Project at Emory, or the Ponderosa Project at Northern Arizona). Faculty can develop (or improve) a sustainability module to be included in the syllabus of one of their courses (for example by generating ideas for lectures, assignments, and texts that incorporate the theme of sustainability). In addition the FLC will also attempt to develop (interdisciplinary) strategies to implement sustainability throughout the university (e.g. through workshops and/or curriculum related materials) as well as to connect to sustainability projects on campus. Whatever the major, our students need tools to think about solutions to environmental issues. The global crisis we are facing is depressing and we should certainly not sugarcoat things. Yet, discussing sustainability can be an uplifting experience that will strengthen a course, and the education and job prospects of our students.
- Accessible Pedagogy and Universal Design for Learning: facilitated by Emily Nusbaum (Learning & Instruction). The Accessibly Pedagogy and UDL post shares information about the half-day workshop the group created in April of 2017. We will finish updating the post during summer 2017 to include more resources and links to recordings (and transcriptions) from the event and from the group's findings over the year.
- Field Study Courses: facilitated by Melinda Stone (Media Studies, Urban Agriculture). A page dedicated to the group's findings will be created during the summer of 2017 and linked here.
- Best Practices in Hybrid Learning Experiences: facilitated by Susan Prion (Nursing and Health Professions). A page dedicated to the group's findings will be created during the summer of 2017 and linked here.
- Student Engagement in the Classroom: Best Practices facilitated by Marjolein Oele (Philosophy). The group inspired the CTE theme Student Engagement for the 2016-2017 academic year, in which group members presented their work in two CTE events: a fall Teaching Cafe on Student Engagement and the January '17 Winter Intensive on Student Engagement. In spring of 2017, CTE invited Nick Zepke (Massey University, New Zealand) - the group consulted Zepke throughout the year - to give a workshop for faculty and a talk on student engagement and neoliberalsm. The work of the group culminated in a published article in Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal.
- Practical Strategies for Working with International Students Facilitated by Melissa Dale (Center for Asia Pacific Studies). This group created two top ten lists - one for students and one for faculty - with best suggestions for creating an inclusive and engaging campus experience for international students. The FLC held a video contest for students, asking them to bring the top ten list to life. You can see the video contest information page with links to the top ten lists here and you can check out the winning student video here.
- The Innovation Lab: Teaching & Technology Facilitated by Eugene Kim (Law). The Innovation Lab members created a report on the status of teaching and technology for administrators of the university, supported by their findings in two focus groups and a faculty survey. The report identified faculty needs and provided suggestions for developing collaborations across university programs including faculty-led sessions on technology. As a result, the CTE now collaborations more with the Center for Instructional Technology, such as the Peer2Peer Series on Teaching and Technology, Drop-in Canvas Sessions, and participation in the Ed Tech Expo, including a student panel led by co-director, Jonathan Hunt.
- Teaching at Branch Campuses Facilitated by June Clausen (Psychology)
- Community Engaged Pedagogies Facilitated by Kevin Lo (Organization, Leadership and Communication)
- Teaching First Year Students & Information Literacy facilitated by Marilyn DeLaure (Communication Studies)
- Flipped Classrooms Facilitated by Susan Prion (Nursing and Health Professions). The FLC created a wonderful in-depth resource about flipped classrooms. Access the flipped classrooms resource page here and start at the handy navitation map in the top bar.
- Qualitative Research Methods Facilitated by Genevieve Leung (Rhetoric and Language)
- Ignatian Pedagogy Facilitated by Kimberly Connor (Public and Nonprofit Administration)
Here's some resources that explain the general ideas behind FLCs in greater depth: