16 Recommendations for Creating and Sustaining Effective Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs)

  1. Limit your FLC to a workable size: 8 to 10 (6-12 perhaps) faculty, professionals, and administrators.
  2. Make membership voluntary and by an application process with department chair sign off.
  3. Consider having affiliate partners: mentors, student associates, consultants.
  4. Select a multidisciplinary FLC cohort, topic, goals, and membership;
    3 reasons: participant curiosity, rich innovations, dysfunctional unit relief
  5. Meet every 3 weeks for 2 hours for one academic year, and determine meeting time at the point of member applications.
  6. Provide social moments, community, and food at meetings; an FLC is not just a committee or task force.
  7. Make the facilitator a key participating member who models desired behavior and initially determines goals.
  8. Have members determine FLC objectives, meeting topics, budget.
  9. Focus on obtaining and maintaining FLC member commitment.
  10. Assess 3 areas of FLC impact: member development, student learning or effectiveness of the FLC's innovation, and FLC components engaged.
  11. Employ an evidenced-based, scholarly approach leading to SoTL.
  12. Present the FLC outcomes to the campus and at conferences.
  13. Blend online/distance FLCs with an initial and 2 or 3 face-to-face meetings when possible.
  14. Include enablers such as rewards, recognition, and a celebratory ending.
  15. Embed an FLC Program into a Teaching and Learning Center and have an FLC Program Director.
  16. Adapt the FLC model for your readiness and institutional culture.

Definition of a Community of Practice

Communities of practice (CoPs) are groups of people who share a concern . . . or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.

Definition of and Notes About a Faculty Learning Community

A faculty learning community is a specifically structured, yearlong academic community of practice that includes the goals of building community, engaging in scholarly (evidenced-based) teaching, and the development of SoTL.

Note the following structural items: an FLC is not a committee, task force, course, book club, or action learning set. These structures may lack community or the scholarship of teaching and learning. An FLC is a small-group learning structure with a process that enables its participants to investigate and provide solutions for about any significant problem or opportunity in higher education.

Leadership roles in FLCs are (1) "investigator," who is interested in learning about FLCs and leads the efforts to bring related information to the institution; (2) "implementer," who leads efforts on campus to establish FLCs as effective and sustainable faculty development approaches; (3) "FLC Program Director," who, once a system of FLCs is established, then organizes, advises, energizes, champions, supports, and helps sustain the FLCs in place at the institution.

The outcomes of implementation science confirm that FLCs provide the most effective educational development programming model for implementing evidence-based interventions.

Decision Points for Designing and Implementing a Specific FLC

Cox, M. D., Richlin, L. and Essington, A. (2012). Faculty Learning Community Planning Guide. Los Angeles, CA: Alliance Publishers

  1. What FLC to Offer
  2. Goals and Objectives for this FLC
  3. Financial Considerations and Budget
  4. Membership Application, Selection Process, PR
  5. People Involved in an FLC
  6. Meetings and Activities
  7. Developing Community and Building Commitment
  8. FLC Curriculum
  9. Assessment
  10. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  11. Recognition, Thank-Yous, and Endings
  12. Facilitating an FLC
  13. @ 2015 Milton D. Cox

    This project has been supported in part by grants from the US Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) and the Ohio Board of Regents.