Overview: Enablers/Rewards

The more enablers and rewards that can be offered to members of an FLC the stronger their engagement and commitment to their activities, responsibilities, and community participation.

Participation in a faculty learning community takes time and work: for example, attendance at weekend retreats, national conferences, and tri-weekly seminars; interaction with a student associate and a faculty partner; reading the new literature of the scholarship of teaching; development of and work on a teaching project; and preparation of a seminar presentation for the campus and, perhaps, a national conference.

At Miami we have two ways of compensating faculty participants. First, and best, is to provide release time from one course for one of the two semesters. This may be done at the rate for part-time or adjunct faculty. If a department chair can create the release time in another manner, then the department receives the funds and usually allocates them to the faculty member, for example, to purchase technology or international travel. Also, each member receives funds to enable his or her learning plan or teaching project. Participants in the Early-Career FLC each have $200 available.

28. Reassigned (Release) Time

Unfortunately, most institutions do not have the budget to provide release time for members of FLCs. At Miami when there is no release time, each participant receives professional expenses of $500 to $1,000. In the teaching portfolio project, each participating department received $5000. At the other extreme, in the FIPSE project we learned that some institutions were able to attract and engage participants for no professional funds or release time. Provision of a focus book and refreshments at meetings was all that was needed.

At Miami each FLC facilitator receives professional expenses budgeted and available for his or her particular FLC. Serving as a facilitator must be approved by the facilitator's department chair.

29. Professional Expense Account

An FLC member's professional expense account has been handled in several ways. Here are some:

  1. The member can use it for any expense related to the FLC topic, for example, software or hardware to accomplish an FLC topic-related task (for example, purchase of software to aid the assessment process--web survey data collection that a department can use to gather and analyze). Other examples include individual (only that person is going, not the group) travel to conferences related to the topic, purchase of books, etc..
  2. Funds can be used for any teaching and learning activity. The thinking here is that the professional expenses are a reward for faculty who are participating for the year. This option is sometimes selected when there is no topic-related item available or of interest to the person.
  3. Funds can be used to support FLC group travel to a conference on the FLC topic in which the expenses will go beyond what is budgeted for the FLC. For example, Miami's U.S. Cultures FLC wanted to present a group paper at the NCORE Conference in New Orleans. The FLC budget could fund only half of the expense, so those who could go paid for the other half out of their own professional expense accounts.

Talk this over with your FLC and reach some consensus. Any of the above options (or a combination of them) may be okay.

Rewards and thank yous for positive efforts are part of building community across an institution. The members of an FLC will appreciate such opportunities for recognition of their work.

Here are some suggestions from FLC Program Directors at various institutions.

30. Recognition by Provosts, Deans, Department Chairs, Colleagues

Rewards and thank yous for positive efforts are part of building community across an institution. The members of an FLC will appreciate such opportunities for recognition of their work.

Here are some suggestions from FLC Program Directors at various institutions.

Have a recognition event at the end of the year. Invite the provost and president to attend and make some comments. Some institutions include a poster session at which community members present their work. A reception or dinner adds a nice touch. It is noteworthy to have a certificate of recognition signed by the president and provost: An example.

Provide opportunities for department chairs to understand how FLCs may fit into the reward system. Any FLC that is connected to teaching should be placed in the teaching category for P and T. Any FLC-related refereed presentation or publication connected to FLC work by a member of an FLC should go under scholarship. If the presentation or publication is the result of classroom research, then it should go under research. In some types of FLCs, such as service learning, some of a member's work could go under service. It should be acceptable to put certain components of FLC work into all three categories as appropriate. This will require informing and discussing with department chairs and senior faculty.

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.