Professional Learning Communities

Faculty learning communities (FLCs) provide a space for educators to engage with an interdisciplinary group of peers over an extended period. They provide a platform for meaningful collaboration, peer learning, and support for enhancing teaching practice. FLCs meet regularly in a semester or year-long program to collaborate and engage in reflection on topics connected to teaching improvement. As a specific form of community of practices, these opportunities help educators connect to peers across disciplines, engage in scholarly dialogue on evidence-based pedagogy, and share feedback and support while exploring specific topics and projects.

Questions about FLCs may be directed to the Teaching and Learning Center at tlc@wcupa.edu

Teaching Circles: Grading Practices and Extended Reality

A teaching circle is a group of faculty who collectively explore a teaching topic of interest and work together to create a product reflecting their learning experience. Products can be research, teaching plans, workshops, presentations, or any other items. The group works together to determine what product or products they wish to create at the start of the process. 

The time commitment is approximately 10 hours over the course of the semester split between four 1-hour gatherings and independent time for reading and product creation. Meeting times will be determined based on participant availability.

In Spring 2024, teaching circles will be available on the following topics:

  • Grading Practices, including ungrading techniques, specification grading, standards grading, and contract grading. 
  • Extended Reality, which is an umbrella term covering virtual, mixed, and augmented reality technologies.  

If you're interested in participating, please complete the registration form linked in the description of the group you would like to join.

Teaching Squares

The Teaching Squares program involves four faculty members in a square who agree to visit each other’s classes over the semester and meet to discuss what they have learned about their own teaching from the observations. The process is non-evaluative and is based on reciprocity, shared responsibility, and mutual respect. Modeled after the program developed by Anne Wessely of St. Louis Community College, the focus is on self-reflection, rather than peer evaluation, critique, or providing feedback or advice about their teaching. Partners observe each other to gather ideas on different teaching approaches that might be used in their own classes. 
 
This is an opportunity for faculty members to learn from each other’s teaching practices in a respectful and supportive environment. As partners observe each other's teaching, they will reflect on and later dialog with each other on questions such as: Could I do something like that? Would that approach work with the content I teach? I might be able to use that, but what would I need to change so that it better fits with my teaching style? Are my students ready for a strategy like that? The intent of the Teaching Squares program is to help you contemplate current teaching practices as you consider some potential alternatives. 

Program Expectations

Participants in the program can expect to spend approximately 8 hours over the semester doing the following: 

  • Attend an initial meeting early in the semester to discuss logistics and establish expectations. (1 hour) 
  • Observe at least one class session of each of the square partners (3+ hours) 
  • Provide syllabi and other relevant information about the classes that partners will be visiting  
  • Write personal reflections after each observation. (1 hour) 
  • Participate in post-observation meetings after every class observation. (1.5 hours) 
  • Attend a wrap-up meeting towards the end of the semester to share reflections and insights (1.5 hours). 

Benefits

Participating in Teaching Squares provides you the opportunity to: 

  • See and celebrate good teaching in action 
  • Build community with colleagues in different disciplines who share your passion for teaching 
  • Enhance your own teaching practices  


This opportunity is open to all faculty (including adjunct professors) at West Chester University; selection will be based on teaching schedules. 
 
If you are interested in participating in this program, please complete the Teaching Squares registration form by December 1, 2023. You will be notified of your acceptance and square assignment by December 15th.  
 
If you have any questions about the program, please contact the TLC at tlc@wcupa.edu.

Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Learning Community

Our students come from different backgrounds and bring with them diverse lived experiences, aspirations, talents, circumstances, and much more. They are also diverse in terms of what they need to navigate the higher education environment and achieve academic success. Equitable teaching is an instructional approach that focuses on reducing barriers to learning and providing need-based support for students. The goal is to create learning environments where students from all backgrounds feel included, supported, and have a sense of belonging. Equitable teaching practices are key to the achievement of equitable learning outcomes for all students.

For the past few years, Drs. Zee Baba and Kimberly Johnson have facilitated a faculty learning community in the College of Health Sciences to guide faculty in reflecting on their practices, explore strategies for making their classrooms more inclusive and reduce barriers to learning. We are pleased to extend the opportunity to participate in the FLC to all faculty.

The program is co-sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI). The FLC will run in Fall 2023 and Spring 2024.

The deadline for WCU faculty interested in participating in this FLC to submit applications was September 15, 2023.

Questions about this FLC or the application process should be directed to the co-facilitators, Dr. Kimberly Johnson and Dr. Zeinab Baba.

Description

Faculty engage in readings, discussion, case studies, and workshop activities to increase skill, knowledge in promoting diverse and inclusive learning environments. Six meetings (three per semester) allow faculty to work with peers to increase understandings. Faculty will have the opportunity to steer and construct topics and guidelines.

Topics Covered

  • Course content and planning
    • Assumptions about students
    • Fairness in the classroom
    • Strategies for creating an inclusive syllabus
    • Rules for respectful dialogues and discussions
    • Use of “evidence” and respect for “other ways of knowing”
    • Unconscious bias, personal bias, institutionalized bias, and stereotype threat
  • Handling conflicts and challenges
    • Emic/etic voices in course materials
    • Microaggressions and microinterventions
    • Navigating discomfort, shame, and difficult conversations
    • Cultural competence, cultural humility, cultural sensitivity, and other theories
    • How faculty can respond to awareness of both students’ and their own bias

 

General Education ePortfolio Faculty Learning Community

The General Education Council and CAPC Executive Committee, with support of the Provost’s Office, invite applications for faculty to participate in a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) centered on the Gen Ed Google Sites ePortfolio. This cohort of instructors will share experiences and provide feedback on e-portfolio artifacts, reflection prompts, and completed portfolios over the course of the fall semester.  
 
WCU has been participating in the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) 2023 Institute on e-Portfolios, with a 5 person team of faculty and staff members working closely with an AACU faculty advisor to learn and apply best practices regarding the use of e-portfolios in higher education. The design of this FLC is an outgrowth of the Institute team’s experiences.  
 
WCU uses Google Sites as its General Education e-Portfolio (GEP) platform. When fully implemented, students will be required to upload artifacts from each General Education course to their GEP and, during their capstone course, will review the collected artifacts in order to reflect and to make connections across the courses. In order to continue a successful roll-out of the GEP requirement across the curriculum, we seek instructors teaching one or more general education courses during the Fall 2023 semester to share assignments designed to meet targeted general education goals, to develop reflection prompts, and to provide feedback on their experience teaching with GEP. The cohort will meet 3 times, share examples of GEP artifacts, reflections, and in-process portfolios, work with WCU’s e-Portfolio team to develop a bank of model portfolios and related resources to assist with the GEP full-scale roll-out, and otherwise provide formal and informal feedback.  

The deadline for WCU faculty interested in participating in this FLC to submit applications was August 25, 2023.

Questions about this FLC or the application process should be directed to

Janneken Smucker, ePortfolio Director.

Expectations of Participants

  • Attend 3 FLC meetings: late August, early November, December/January
  • Fill out pre- and post-questionnaires 
  • Create own portfolio using Google Sites as a way of understanding the concepts and practices of e-portfolio  
  • Develop and share strategies for introducing GEP in your courses 
  • Administer end-of-semester survey to General Education course students 
  • Submit sample assignments, reflection prompts, and model portfolios 
  • Provide formal and informal feedback on the use and roll-out of GEP 
  • Enthusiastically disseminate knowledge and experiences regarding GEP to colleagues and recruit participants for future cohorts 

 

Pedagogical Innovations Faculty Learning Community

The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) are pleased to announce a call for applications for faculty to participate in a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) to investigate the effectiveness of pedagogical innovations. Pedagogical innovations are intentional actions undertaken to improve students’ learning in a sustainable manner to address specific barriers or challenges to student success (Walder, 2014). The goal of this project is to scale up pedagogical innovations developed by WCU faculty to improve student engagement and retention in courses. Faculty selected to participate in the FLC will engage with an interdisciplinary group of faculty peers in this collaborative learning opportunity. The cohort of faculty will share resources, guidance, and support while carrying out research on the effectiveness and implementation of innovative teaching strategies on student engagement in the classroom. This project is funded through the Provost’s Enrollment Planning Investment (PEPI) grant initiative.

This project will run in a two-year cycle beginning Fall 2023 and ending in Spring 2025. During the project, participants will:

  • Participate in a series of monthly meetings to discuss a range of topics related to scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), pedagogical innovation, and student engagement.
  • Develop and pilot an innovative pedagogical strategy for increasing student engagement and retention.
  • Design and conduct a research study to assess effectiveness and impact of your selected strategy on student engagement and retention.
  • Share research findings at WCU and beyond.

The deadline for WCU faculty interested in participating in this FLC to submit applications was on July 31, 2023.

If you have any questions about this FLC, please contact the Teaching and Learning Center at tlc@wcupa.edu.

Expectations of Participants

FLC Participants are expected to:

  • Attend all FLC meetings (in person, or virtually, as necessary) every month during the academic year,
  • Actively contribute to FLC discussions,
  • Contribute resources, such as articles and readings,
  • Participate in peer review of research designs, articles and/or presentations,
  • Submit to IRB to conduct research and present findings
  • Share research findings on pedagogical innovations to advance student engagement and retention at WCU and beyond,
  • Be willing, after completion of the SoTL FLC program, to mentor other faculty who are interested in learning about SoTL and conducting their own SoTL projects.

Potential Topics

Reading materials will be provided to FLC participants. We invite participants to suggest changes and/or additions to the list of topics.

  • Faculty learning communities
  • Principles and practice of SoTL
  • Pedagogical innovation
  • Student engagement
  • Metacognition and self-regulation
  • Active learning
  • Growth mindset
  • Motivation theories
  • Sociocultural and inclusive approaches to teaching and learning
  • Creating your research design
  • Writing up and presenting your research