June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Educational Research and Methods
26.1128.1 - 26.1128.17
Making Value for Faculty: Learning Communities in Engineering Faculty DevelopmentCommunities of practice among educators are often enacted in the form of FacultyLearning Communities, which are groups of faculty who engage over time to collaborateon active learning toward professional development as teachers. Faculty learningcommunities are typically ensemble-driven. The facilitator acts as a supporter, organizeror co-learner, and all faculty members take roles in providing or analyzing relevantcontent and steering group inquiry. The community itself becomes a key component offaculty growth; the ensemble provides a means for social learning, group problem solving,support, and motivation toward teaching innovations. Faculty learning communities havebeen found to promote deep learning among faculty, promote faculty cohesion, andencourage faculty to strive for improvement and adopt or adapt new practices to theirown classrooms. Furthermore, they improve faculty’s experience as educators byreducing isolation and situating them in ready-made supportive cultures.An impediment to more widespread adoption of faculty learning communities in highereducation is that most best-practice community design models, while unanimouslyencouraging, take their cues from the tighter infrastructure and incentives of K12 learningcommunities. Recommendations such as top-down enforcement, yearlong commitments,member projects and peer assessment imply a high barrier to entry. This highly controlledand incentivized structure may seem prohibitive to would-be facilitators—misleadinglyprohibitive. Within engineering education there are numerous successful modelscurrently in use, many requiring more limited commitment, bottom-up organization andno incentivizing beyond faculty value for the community learning experience. Making thebreadth of learning community models visible will help expand our concept of the designof a successful faculty learning community, remove perceived barriers to instantiatesuccessful learning communities, and pave the way towards finding and sharing a broaderrange of learning community practices that allow engineering educators to access theirpeers and add value to their teaching and professional experience.In this evidence-based practice paper, we profile five different instances of facultylearning communities for engineering educators. We draw out themes of interest tomembers of the engineering education community who are considering, planning orrefining a faculty learning community or community of practice within their owninstitution. We examine learning community design, goals and outcomes; origins andrefinements to these learning communities; issues related to faculty participation and taskvalue; strategies, successes, and lessons learned. We analyze themes across the learningcommunities, and offer recommendations and future work towards building a broader setof best practices for learning communities and communities of practice that reflect thegoals, constraints, and resources of engineering education and faculty development.
Pulford, S., & Ruzycki, N., & Finelli, C. J., & Hahn, L. D., & Thorsen, D. (2015, June), Making Value for Faculty: Learning Communities in Engineering Faculty Development Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24465
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