Implementing Learning Communities: Findings from Year One

Monday 4:30pm-6:00pm SERC Building - Atrium | Poster #25
Poster Session Part of Monday Poster Session


Kyle Fredrick, Pennsylvania Western University - California
Peter Cormas, Pennsylvania Western University - California
Kimberly Woznack, Pennsylvania Western University - California
Michelle Valkanas, Pennsylvania Western University - California
Ali Sezer, Pennsylvania Western University - California
Matthew Price, Pennsylvania Western University - California

Our institution was awarded an NSF-IUSE grant to implement a form of professional development for higher-education science faculty known as a learning community (LC). A LC has a facilitator, resembles a focus group, and allows faculty to have conversations centered on instruction and student learning. Every instructor (n=20) at our institution committed to participate in the LC for one year. The first cohort completed the year-long effort in December '23. Findings include: (a) LC facilitators reported early faculty buy-in and high engagement during most LC sessions, but attendance was a challenge; (b) LC facilitators' responses suggest tension between the intended focus vs. the free-form structure of LCs; (c) Faculty members said that the LC provided a much-needed forum to discuss shared challenges and to get fresh perspectives; (d) Most faculty said that being in a learning community motivated them to experiment with different instructional approaches in their classes; (e) Faculty members were optimistic about their efforts and seemed to think that the strategies they implemented supported aspects of student learning, such as student engagement, collaboration, and problem solving; and (f) Most faculty members indicated that the learning community differed from their expectations. The second faculty cohort recently completed their first semester of LC meetings, which will continue through the fall '24 term.