Learning Communities

Faculty Learning Communities

As part of the CITL's mission to promote transformative learning experiences for IUB instructors, the CITL sponsors multiple Learning Communities each year. Learning Communities at Indiana University Bloomington are cohorts of instructors, often from different disciplines or fields of study, who ask questions about teaching and learning, try out teaching innovations, assess student learning, create new models of practice, and publish scholarship about their work. Each community shares a question, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic, as members deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis. Members engage in scholarly teaching and student-centered learning, collaborating within a collegial framework that offers peer review and support.

Learning Communities meet once or twice a month, most often for the academic year, and each community has two types of outcomes—individual changes to one's own practice, and a group "give back" to the larger IUB teaching community. All IUB faculty members, both tenure track and non-tenure track, are eligible to participate in Faculty Learning Communities; all graduate students are eligible to participate in Graduate Student Learning Communities (and we do have some shared communities that include instructors in various positions).

Past FLCs

Improving Equity in Large Introductory Courses through Classroom-Based Research

Co-facilitators: Madeleine Gonin & Nikeetha Farfan
This FLC, co-sponsored by CITL and OVPDI, supports instructors of large classes who want to create equitable and inclusive classrooms that support the learning of all students, especially students who have been and continue to be marginalized by the education system. Members of this FLC will be expected to work with the co-facilitators to design and implement a research project to transform their course to increase diversity and equity to enhance academic success. The results will be documented and shared to extend the impact of these transformations.

This FLC will meet regularly to discuss diversity and equity in large classrooms. In Fall 2020 we will discuss and reflect on current transformative pedagogies, identify appropriate educational intervention methods for each participant’s research; and reflect on our own pedagogies and classroom practices. The co-facilitators will work closely with each participant to design, implement, and analyze an intervention in their own class in 2021.

Uncovering Racism in our Disciplines

Facilitator: Joan Middendorf
Disciplines are neither value-neutral, nor free from cultural influences. Faculty who want to take a deeper dive into diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice will explore the possible role our disciplines take in America’s racist project and the implications for our curricula and classroom. We will interview each other to understand and unpack the hidden forms of perceived superiority, patriarchy, racism, and ethnocentrism that hold the academy’s privileges in place (Easton, et. al, 2019).  With new insights we will turn to our local curriculum and to our classroom, comparing some anti-racist practices to transform our teaching practices.

Systematic Literature Review as a Research Method in SoTL

Facilitator: Shannon Sipes
Systematic literature reviews apply a replicable protocol to search for, appraise, and synthesize previously published work on a specific research question. The end goal in this type of research is to synthesize what is known, identify what remains unknown, and provide recommendations for practice and future research.  In this FLC, participants will engage in a collaborative writing process with other group members utilizing systematic literature review as the research method for the manuscript. Group members will identify the research question of focus and learn more about how to conduct this type of research during the FLC.  

Critical Reflection as a Research Method in SoTL

Facilitator: Shannon Sipes
Critical reflection as a research method is focused on collecting and creating understanding of experience in order to improve the practice of the educator. In this FLC, participants will engage in critical reflection as research around a topic of their choice. The end goal of the FLC experience is a draft manuscript. Group members will learn more about how to conduct this type of research during the FLC and will support each other through the process of individual reflection. 

Equitable Assessment and Grading

Co-facilitators: Lisa Kurz and Cordah Robinson Pearce
What does it mean to assess students’ learning equitably in your discipline, that is, to ensure our assessment approaches guarantee fair treatment, access, and opportunity to succeed? What could instructors change about their assessment strategies to reduce barriers and improve equity? In this FLC, we will explore these and other questions about grading equity. Participants will read about and discuss alternative ways of assessing students, different models of grading such as “specs” or contract grading, and evidence-based frameworks (like Transparency in Learning and Teaching [TiLT], and Universal Design for Learning) that can enhance the equity of assignments. Participants will have an opportunity to redesign an assessment or grading scheme to make it more equitable, as well as identify ways to improve equity of assessments across their department or discipline.

Promoting Social Justice through Community-Engaged Learning

Facilitator: Michael Valliant
Though often overlooked in favor of offering students “real world” experience in their academic discipline, grappling with fundamental social and civic dilemmas is a central component and outcome of community-engaged pedagogies, like service-learning and community based participatory action research. Truly transformational community-curricular partnerships motivate participants (students, instructors, community partners) to action, recognizing their role in affecting social change. Dr. Dan Butin (2007) notes, “There is immense potential for stronger linkages between service-learning and social justice education, given that community-based practices are critical and natural spaces within which students learn to become active and engaged citizens.” This faculty learning community will provide instructors with a community within which to discuss the linkages between community-engaged learning and social justice education. We’ll review foundational readings and share ideas for integrating social justice explicitly into community engaged courses. The FLC will share the results of their explorations with the wider campus.  

Visual Discussions with VoiceThread

Facilitator: Kate Ellis
Engaging students in online discussions is essential in both all-online and hybrid courses. VoiceThread is a tool for moving beyond text-based forums, in an asynchronous environment. In this FLC, we will discuss readings on best practices for online discussions, develop VT discussions and assignments for class, and share success and challenges. This FLC is for instructors who have a working knowledge of VoiceThread, and will meet approximately every three weeks throughout this school year. At the end of the FLC, participants will offer a panel discussion via a webinar to share insights with the IU community.

Improving Student Belonging in Classes and Majors

Historically underrepresented and marginalized students may face unique difficulties (isolation, marginalization, discrimination, etc.) that cause them to change majors early in their college careers, decide to transfer to another institute for higher education, or discontinue their education. This learning community will bring together instructors who want to explore how to help students to develop a sense of belonging in a class, major, and/or discipline. This learning community will meet in Fall 2019, with the possibility of extending the FLC into Spring 2020. The fall semester will include foundational readings. If members wish to continue into the spring semester, they will conduct a research project on the topic of sense of belonging in their class, major, and/or discipline. The results will be documented and shared to extend the impact of these transformations.

Managing Distracting Devices

Smart phones, tablets, and laptops have great potential to assist in student learning through increased engagement, but they also have the potential to be a significant distraction to that learning. These devices can distract all members of the classroom, including the student, students around the user, and the instructor. With the digital world at their fingertips, students are tempted to text friends, shop, play games, work on other assignments, and browse at their leisure.  So how do we engage students so that they stay focused in class? This faculty learning community will provide instructors with a community within which to discuss these challenges and find solutions that work. We’ll share ideas for mitigating digital distractions, review research on the relationship between student learning and digital devices, and discuss options for managing digital device use in ways that enhance—not distract from—student engagement and learning.

Reaching All of Our Students: Making Teaching More Inclusive

Besides teaching content and skills in our disciplines, our role is to help students learn—all students, not just those who come “pre-educated” from the best schools or parents with advanced degrees. Research is increasingly indicating that traditional teaching methods (lecturing and cold-calling) do not serve all students well. We can offer diverse content, texts, guest speakers, and so on, where relevant, but one of best ways to engage all of our students is to focus on teaching methods. Structured activities mean more students will engage and learn from you and from their peers. Replacing some of the weight of high-stakes work with smaller, more frequent assessments, students can better gauge whether they need more practice. When the teacher talks less, structures activities, and assesses more, we obtain evidence about the learning of all students, equally. FLC members will read about and experiment with best inclusive teaching concepts, such as growth mindset (conveying that learning is hard yet not impossible), and connecting to students—the importance of being approachable. Which of these will work best for me as a faculty member? The FLC will share the results of their explorations with the wider campus. 

Exploring Career Advancement for Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning

Tenure and Non-Tenure Track faculty using community-engaged pedagogies and activities in a research university must consider how to translate their work into the three categories of teaching, research, and service. Crafting compelling arguments requires navigating campus and department policies not always clear on how they support community engaged activity. However, The Research University Civic Engagement Network (TRUCEN) identifies that, "research universities are in an admirable position to advance community engaged research; indeed this may be their contribution to the community engagement movement with the greatest potential."  The FLC will analyze and apply existing resources and guidelines about advancement through community engagement to support their own dossiers and create recommendations for supporting other faculty in their tenure and promotion processes. Faculty at all levels of experience and professional status are invited. This FLC will meet the entire academic year, including work between meetings.

Introduction to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

For many faculty members, the classroom can be a source of interesting questions about students’ learning. For example: What is the impact of a specific active learning technique on my students’ understanding of course material?  How do my students prepare for exams and how does that correlate with their performance? Does my students’ prior coursework or academic background correlate with their performance in my class? In seeking answers to these kinds of questions, faculty can use the research methods of their own discipline to examine their teaching and their students’ learning. This is the premise underlying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), a program that helps faculty members take a scholarly approach to their teaching and share the results of their inquiry with their colleagues. In this FLC, participants will learn about SoTL by developing a proposal for their own SoTL project. 

Note: This FLC does not provide funding for participants, but the outcome may lead to a funded SoTL proposal.

Professional Development for Non-Tenure Track Faculty

What opportunities for professional development are available at IUB for non-tenure track (NTT) faculty? Whether you’re new to IUB or have been at the university for a longer time, you may not be aware of all the possibilities. This FLC will focus on identifying and exploring paths for professional development for NTT faculty in the areas of teaching, research, and service. FLC participants will create a plan for their own professional development by articulating strategies to address areas in their professional lives that they would like to develop further. In addition, as a way of supporting the wider NTT community at IUB, participants will identify paths and activities available for the professional development of NTT faculty at all levels. Participants will also have opportunities to network and collaborate with colleagues both within the FLC and in the broader campus community. All full-time non-tenure track faculty, regardless of time at IUB, rank, or discipline, are welcome to apply. 

Students as Partners in SoTL

CITL Facilitator: Shannon Sipes
“Students as Partners in higher education re-envisions students and [faculty] as active collaborators in teaching and learning” (Mercer-Mapstone, et al., 2017, p. 1). These partnerships may occur in subject-based research and inquiry, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), curriculum design and pedagogy, or learning, teaching, and assessment. In this FLC, faculty and undergraduate student participants explored what collaborating as partners looks like in SoTL, including the benefits, challenges, and opportunities from each perspective.  We explored the utility of SoTL as a viable undergraduate research experience for the students as well as the utility of undergraduates as research support for faculty members involved in SoTL work. As a final product, participants made recommendations to create a plan for engaging IUB faculty and undergraduate students in collaborative SoTL work.

Gender Diversity in STEM

CITL Facilitator: Madeleine Gonin
This FLC, co-sponsored by CITL and CEWiT, supported STEM instructors who want to create equitable and inclusive classrooms that support the learning of each student. Topics included raising awareness around gender climate in STEM classes, identifying issues around retention of both students and instructors in STEM fields, designing accessible content, and implementing inclusive practices. Members worked to transform their courses to increase gender diversity and enhance academic success. The results will be documented and shared to extend the impact of these transformations.

Providing Students Feedback through the Student Engagement Roster

CITL Facilitator: Greg Siering
How can we provide students with meaningful feedback, particularly in ways that cut across their various classes at IUB? This learning community brought together faculty members and advisors to explore the possibilities of the new Student Engagement Roster (SER), a tool designed to provide students with a wide range of feedback about their academic performance, as well as to make recommendations for improvement. Participants learned more about SER’s functionality, identified best practices for making SER-generated feedback meaningful to students, and explored ways that faculty, advisors, and other support staff can work together to promote student success. 

Professional Development for Non-Tenure Track Faculty Members

CITL Facilitator: Lisa Kurz
What opportunities for professional development are available at IUB for non-tenure track (NTT) faculty? Whether you’re new to IUB or have been at the university for a longer time, you may not be aware of all the possibilities. This FLC focused on identifying and exploring paths for professional development for NTT faculty in the areas of teaching, research, and service. FLC participants created plans for their own professional development by articulating strategies to address areas in their professional lives that they would like to develop further. In addition, as a way of supporting the wider NTT community at IUB, participants identified paths and activities available for the professional development of NTT faculty at all levels. Participants  also had opportunities to network and collaborate with colleagues both within the FLC and in the broader campus community. All full-time non-tenure track faculty, regardless of time at IUB, rank, or discipline, are welcome to apply.  

Developing Local Pedagogy Leaders

We recognize that departmental efforts to support teaching and learning are often more successful and sustainable when faculty members take leadership roles in those endeavors. Such local leaders understand departmental culture, unique curricular and disciplinary contexts, and specific student needs. In this learning community, we explored ways to best develop and utilize local pedagogy leaders to meet departmental needs. Participants:
  • Identified their departments’ goals regarding teaching and learning
  • Identified and utilized department-level knowledge and expertise on teaching
  • Identified and practiced skills for mentoring junior faculty on teaching issues
  • Examined various approaches to supporting teaching and selected ones that best matched departmental needs and culture
  • Built effective partnerships with CITL staff members to support departmental efforts
  • Explored strategies for engaging colleagues and building support for new teaching initiatives
  • Developed a pilot project for addressing teaching concerns and/or goals in their departments

Augmenting Large Classrooms for Active Learning

CITL Facilitator: Lisa Kurz

Most existing classrooms were not intentionally designed to support active learning strategies, requiring instructors to find ways to implement interactive pedagogies in rooms designed for lectures. This FLC will explore the potential impacts of smaller changes that can be made to such classrooms (e.g., portable whiteboards, mobile apps, shared wireless projection, etc.) in order to facilitate active learning. Participants will both develop new teaching approaches for their own classes and make recommendations to the campus on what minor classroom augmentations would best support active learning approaches.

 

Global Learning

CITL Facilitator: Greg Siering

This faculty learning community will collectively explore new approaches to global learning and teaching. By integrating innovative pedagogies, research, and building on the existing strengths and resources on our campus, the FLC will suggest strategic approaches to global learning and teaching for IUB. Faculty will help chart a path for more global and inclusive learning environments for all classrooms and all students of IUB, particularly for those students who may not have an opportunity to study abroad. Topics, while ultimately selected by the faculty members, might include global learning pedagogy, leveraging the expertise of study abroad students, international student integration, designing intentionally global courses, global classrooms and technology, internationalization and multiculturalism, and assessing global engagement. This FLC is a collaboration of the CITL and the Center for the Study of Global Change.

 

Maximizing Undergraduate Teaching Assistants in the Classroom

CITL Facilitator: Shannon Sipes

Research indicates that when employed effectively, collaborative learning promotes deeper learning, encourages critical thinking, and develops teamwork skills.  One approach to enhance collaborative learning in the classroom is through the Learning Assistant Model.  In this model faculty members utilize undergraduate teaching assistants trained in pedagogy and content prep sessions to facilitate active learning in collaborative student groups inside the classroom.  During their time in this FLC, participants will transform a course through the Large Class Course Design Institute to increase usage of collaborative activities, examine research & strategies related to small group activities in the classroom, and discover best practices for the usage of Learning Assistants at IUB. As a final product, participants will assess the impact of the implementation and course transformation and are encouraged to present those results at the regional or national Learning Assistants Alliance conference.  Note:Applicants should already have undergraduate teaching assistants assigned to their course(s) for the 17-18 AY prior to applying for this FLC and be available to participate in the modified CDI July 31-August 4.

 

Introduction to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL)

CITL Facilitator: Shannon Sipes / Lisa Kurz

For many faculty, the classroom can be a source of interesting questions about students’ learning. For example: what is the impact of a specific active learning technique on my students’ understanding of course material?  How do my students prepare for exams, and how does that correlate with their performance? Does my students’ prior coursework or academic background correlate with their performance in my class? In seeking answers to these kinds of questions, faculty can use the research methods of their own discipline to examine their teaching and their students’ learning. This is the premise underlying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL), a program that helps faculty take a scholarly approach to their teaching and share the results of their inquiry with their colleagues. In this FLC, participants will engage in SOTL by formulating a research question, applying their disciplinary expertise to identify methods to investigate the question, and gathering evidence to address it. (This FLC is currently unfunded.) 

Active Learning in Large Classes

CITL Facilitator: Lisa Kurz

Engaging students in active learning is known to increase student learning, both in the short and long term, but that level of engagement seems challenging in large classes. This FLC will explore ways that instructors can introduce active learning in even the largest of classes, help participants design and implements class activities, and introduce ways of determining their impact on student learning.

Developing Inclusive Teaching Practices

CITL Facilitator: Joan Middendorf

This FLC will examine the benefits of diverse classrooms and explore ways we can develop inclusive classroom climates that open learning to all students, including (but not limited to) individuals with identities related to race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, international/national origin, dis/ability, religion, socioeconomic status, and veteran status. Topics may include implicit bias, managing discussion of hot topics, fostering diverse student interaction, and inclusive instructional approaches.

Improving Teaching and Learning through Ongoing Feedback

CITL Facilitator: Shannon Sipes / Madeleine Gonin

Improving teaching and learning is best accomplished when instructors have information and evidence to guide their work, and gathering student feedback throughout the semester can be key to this process. This feedback can include asking direct questions about how the course is going, collecting information about students’ understanding and performance, and helping students understand their own progress toward course goals. This FLC will explore various ways of gathering these different types of information—including through instructional technologies—as well as finding ways of taking action based on that feedback.

Active Learning Online

CITL Facilitator: Sue Hathaway

Research indicates that students learn best when they are actively involved—engaged in thinking, expressing ideas, giving and receiving feedback, and reflecting on what they are doing and learning. In this FLC, participants explored how to use active learning strategies to create engaging and effective online activities. As a final product, participants created an online showcase of activities to model innovative ideas and best practices for instructors designing online and hybrid courses. Participation in this FLC was limited to instructors who have designed, or begun to design, an online or hybrid course.

Collaborative Learning

CITL Facilitator: Tracey Birdwell

Research has shown that, when employed effectively, collaborative learning promotes deeper learning, encourages critical thinking, and develops teamwork skills. In this FLC, participants considered discipline-appropriate ways to incorporate collaborative learning strategies and pedagogies into their course design. Through exploring research on collaborative learning, discussing collaborative teaching strategies, and sharing collaborative learning assignments, participants in this FLC explored ways to make their collaborative projects or assignments more effective. By the end of this FLC, participants in this course shared their collaborative approaches with instructors in their departments and with the larger IUB community, as well as planned a session on collaborative learning for the CITL's 2016 New Faculty Orientation event.

Media Production and Integration Faculty Learning Community (2015-16)

CITL Facilitator: Matt Barton

The new Faculty Media Production Space offers instructors a team of media specialists to help easily create dynamic high-quality online instructional media. The Media Production and Integration FLC participants  explored new and innovative uses of this space using active learning and interactive media techniques that provide students with transformative learning experiences as they move beyond surface learning to deep learning experiences. FLC participants were highly encouraged to submit their work to a repository of exemplar media to guide and inspire future IUB instructors who might be considering adding media to their courses. No Prior media experience was required to join this FLC.

Envisioning Meaning and Visual Literacy

Cordah Pearce and Valerie O'Loughlin

As the flow of information accelerates, using and creating imagery to reveal and derive meaning from complex information grows in importance. Participants in this FLC will explore the use of visual media in teaching and learning—from fine art to data graphs to digital video—as a critical component of information literacy. During the course of the FLC, participants will explore the uses of media and the place of visual literacy within information literacy, and will design student learning activities that add to their students' abilities to retrieve, analyze, use, create, and successfully communicate complex ideas across disciplines and culturally diverse audiences.

Backward Course Design in Action

Each year approximately 40 participants attend the Course Development Institute (CDI), developing well-designed courses with clearly aligned course goals, assessments, and learning outcomes. This FLC is for CDI alumni who want to concentrate on creating student-centered learning activities that align with the courses they designed during their participation in the CDI. FLC participants will design in-class activities that align with student learning outcomes, practice the activities with their peers, implement those activities in their classes, and determine the success of those activities. Finally, participants will create a course portfolio that documents their work in the FLC.

Active Learning Spaces

With the growth of interest in new active learning spaces on our campus, it is important to promote a reflective and critical approach to assessing the effectiveness of these spaces as well as the teaching and learning they are designed to foster. Participants in this FLC will explore the innovative classrooms and informal learning spaces that already exist at IUB, design and assess teaching approaches uniquely suited to those spaces, and identify possible futures for learning spaces on our campus.

Flipping the Class

Laura Plummer, Cordah Robinson, and Madeleine Gonin

Both all the rage and tried and true, the methodology of “flipping” a class moves content coverage to out-of-class time and reserves valuable class time for structured learning activities that ask students to grapple with that material. Students’ time outside of class is also directed at grappling with reading material and lecture material in preparation for the more engaged and engaging class period.  Moving through and beyond the initial questions of “flipping”—namely “how will my students engage with course content outside of class?“ and “what activities will I plan for students to do in class”?—members of this FLC, facilitated by Laura Plummer, Cordah Robinson, and Madeleine Gonin, consider best practices in the art of flipping, share successes and challenges, and consider the efficacy of their choices.

Engaging Differences Community of Practice

David Pace (History) and Joan Middendorf

The Engaging Differences Community of Practice is using the Decoding the Disciplines method to explore bottlenecks regarding race and ethnicity, such as why Asian students participate differently in class or in teams, why students in an acting class question whether white people can play the roles of black people, or why Journalism students cannot find someone different from themselves to interview. The differences and intersections of these projects provide insights into how to teach the crucial operations of our various fields.

Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM Faculty Learning Community

Katie Kearns and Lisa Kurz

Despite many high-profile criticisms of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education, calls for action spanning over two decades, and an increasing trove of evidence-based best practices from educational research and the scholarship of teaching and learning, college- and university-level STEM education remains largely lecture-driven, teacher-centered and content-heavy. This FLC provides an interdisciplinary safe space for STEM faculty to explore current issues and shortcomings of undergraduate science education, identify and share local best practices, innovate and transform courses to be more interactive and inquiry-based, and advocate for disciplinary and institutional change. Members of this FLC are instructors who have previously engaged in classroom research and who are interested in finding intersections with their work. In addition, this FLC includes instructors new to SOTL who would like collegial support as they begin investigations of their teaching and students' learning.

Paths to the Professoriate

Valerie O'Loughlin (Medical Sciences) and Katie Kearns

Graduate students in the Paths to the Professoriate learning community represented a broad array of disciplines including Anatomy Education, Applied Health Science, Education, English, and Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies.  The participants spend the fall semester in a critical examination of their discipline’s teaching strategies using texts such as How People Learn and Signature Pedagogies to frame their discussions. They also begin experimenting with classroom assessment techniques to address learning challenges in their course and to provide them with quantitative and qualitative measures of student success. The graduate students also have special opportunities to meet with invited SOTL speakers such as Scott Freeman (University of Washington), with whom they discussed evidence-based methods of enhancing the learning of underrepresented students in the sciences. In the spring semester, the graduate students engage in significant course-based investigations into the connection between their teaching methods and their students’ learning. Through their interdisciplinary work in the learning community, the graduate students acquire new teaching tools and multiple approaches to assessing learning.