Learning Communities are groups of faculty, staff, and/or students from across disciplines who work together in groups of 6-15 to engage in active, collaborative, year-long study of how best to enhance teaching and learning within their academic contexts. LCs explore evidence-based teaching and learning on topics of the group members’ interest, foster community, and discuss the best ways to meet the challenges of higher education today. LCs can be cohort- or topic- based; formal or informal. The format, goals, and topics are entirely determined by the community.
An example of more formal LC might be a group of STEM and Social Ecology faculty who decide to learn more about implementing Problem-Based Learning in their respective undergraduate courses. The members might decide that their goals are to explore the literature on Problem-Based Learning to determine its feasibility for their purposes, to cooperatively design a Problem-Based case study for their designated course, to get feedback on their cases, implement their project, and get feedback and input during the implantation. As a group, they might ask for suggestions for resources from the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation or colleagues or research article themselves. They might exchange drafts for peer feedback, and visit one another’s classes to see how PBL is implemented and give each other feedback and suggestions.
A less formal LC might be a “Teaching Circle” where members meet on a regular basis to just raise and discuss whatever teaching/learning issues have arisen since their last meeting. They might exchange ideas and suggestions, or look into the literature or invite a guest with experience/expertise to visit the group.