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Using Faculty Learning Communities to Create a Sustainable Community of Practice That Promotes Curricular and Instructional Change

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Faculty Development Division (FDD) Technical Session 11

Tagged Division

Faculty Development Division (FDD)

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Paper Authors


Megan Morin ASHLIN Management Group

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Megan Morin (she/her) graduated from the University of Dayton with a bachelor's degree in Middle Childhood Education and completed her Master's and Ph.D. degrees at North Carolina State University in Engineering and Technology Education. Megan's research interests include assessment, program development, faculty development, and workforce development. These have developed based on her previous work experiences as the KEEN Program Coordinator with the Department of Applied Physical Sciences at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Education and Workforce Coordinator/Graduate Assistant at PowerAmerica and FREEDM System Center of North Carolina State University, and as a middle school teacher for Wake County Public School System (North Carolina).

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Richard Goldberg University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Richard Goldberg is a Teaching Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill. He is developing a new interdisciplinary engineering minor and major at UNC. He is interested in integrating engineering with the liberal arts and an entrepreneurial mindset. He teaches a variety of classes for first year students, seniors, and everyone in between and he enjoys designing and fabricating things in the makerspace whenever he has time. His primary research interest is in rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology for people with disabilities.

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Bryant Hutson University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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When implementing new evidence-based pedagogy in a course to improve student learning, the faculty must address the course goals, teaching strategies, and assessments [1]. The time required to make these changes can be challenging for faculty who are juggling their research and service commitments. To address this challenge, higher education practitioners have encouraged these pedagogical changes through Communities of Practice (CoP), particularly Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) [2-4]. Faculty gain a deeper understanding of the topic while advancing the use of evidence-based teaching strategies [4]. However, while short-term approaches are often discussed [4], identifying effective strategies to sustain a long-term pedagogical change through an FLC experience, especially in engineering education, has been a challenge and remains underexplored in the literature on faculty development. We have developed and assessed an FLC model to support curricular and instructional change, as part of a sustainable faculty development program. In this paper, we describe how this three-year FLC was designed to promote entrepreneurial minded learning (EML) for our students and developed into a transdisciplinary EML and design CoP. The FLC outcomes were based on the framework developed by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) [5]. We advanced our FLC model through three iterations and adapted it to the needs of our faculty, while also dealing with constraints from the COVID pandemic. To lower barriers to faculty participation, we designed our program to take place during the academic year, meeting approximately once a month for six sessions at 90 minutes each session. The meetings are active workshops, in which the facilitators model activities as instructors, and the faculty engage as if they were students. Faculty are supported with teaching resources and by attending three 1:1 hour-long sessions with the FLC facilitator. They also administer three “micromoment” activities (2-30 minutes) in their classes, which can then be developed into a larger implementation for a published KEEN Card [6]. The KEEN FLC was implemented in 2019-2021 with three cohorts and 21 STEM faculty members across eight departments. An FLC participant described the benefit of the micromoment activities, resources, and faculty cohort by stating, “Our meetings were quite active, which can sometimes be tiring, but actually using the tools during our meetings made me more confident to use them in my classes.” By also engaging faculty from previous and current cohorts, we helped to build our community. We formally assessed the impact of this program on faculty and their students using surveys and other assessment tools. Faculty reported not only learning more about EML, but also implementing best teaching practices based on their FLC experience. With strong support, immediate implementation of the pedagogy, and focusing on value to participants, we created a model for faculty to improve their teaching and enriched student experiences. By making the pedagogical changes manageable, faculty will be successful in the implementation and more likely to sustain this practice.

[1] E. Elliott, R. Reason, C. Coffman, E. Gangloff, J. Raker, J. Powell-Coffman, and C. Ogilvie, “Improved Student Learning through a Faculty Learning Community: How Faculty Collaboration Transformed a Large-Enrollment Course from Lecture to Student Centered,” CBE Life Sci Edu., vol. 15, pp. 1-14, March 2016. [2] S. Pulford, N. Ruzycki, C. Finelli, L. Hahn, and D. Thorsen, “Making value for faculty: Learning communities in engineering faculty development,” in 2015 ASEE Annual Conf. & Exposition, (Seattle, WA), (June) 2015. pp. 26.1128.1 - 26.1128.17. [3] M. Cox, “Introduction to faculty learning communities,” New directions for teaching and learning, vol. 2004, no. 97, pp. 5-23, Apr. 2004. [4] T. L. Tinnell et al, "Sustaining pedagogical change via faculty learning community," International Journal of STEM Education, vol. 6, (1), pp. 1-16, 2019.   [5] Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network: Engineering Unleashed. “The Framework” (accessed October 11, 2022). [6] Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network: Engineering Unleashed. “Cards” (accessed January 10, 2022).

Morin, M., & Goldberg, R., & Hutson, B. (2023, June), Using Faculty Learning Communities to Create a Sustainable Community of Practice That Promotes Curricular and Instructional Change Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--44576

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