Faculty Learning Communities: FIPSE Project Developing FLCs to Transform Campus Culture for Learning

Miami University's FIPSE project, 2001-2005, is the dissemination of its successful and unique Faculty Learning Communities Program to 6 adapting institutions: The Claremont Graduate University and Claremont Colleges, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Kent State University, Ohio University, The Ohio State University, and the University of Notre Dame. The goal of this FIPSE project is to enhance student learning as a result of the enhanced teaching of faculty participating in the Faculty Learning Communities Program that each institution will develop as a result of this project.

Miami University is mentoring this dissemination project, which provides a fast-track, 3-year development of 12 FLCs involving over 100 faculty at each of the 6 adapting institutions (AIs). Except for Ohio University, which joined the project in 2002-03, each AI was to develop and engage 2 FLCs the first year, 4 the second year, and 6 the third year. Now in the third year of the FIPSE grant, these institutions have developed 60 FLCs of 30 different types. These are indicated in the table on the next 2 pages, with the FLC program directors on the page that follows the tables.

Evidence from the FIPSE project (Beach & Cox, 2009) shows that FLCs are effective "deep learning" ways to encourage and support faculty to investigate, attempt, assess, and adopt new (to them) methods such as using appropriate technology, active learning, and student-centered learning. The FLCs at Miami are coordinated by the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), and each FLC is facilitated by an experienced faculty member or a professional staff member in an academic support area such as learning technologies, the Center for Writing Excellence, Honors Program, Assessment, or Student Affairs.

The Ohio Teaching Enhancement Program (OTEP) is a result of an $80,000 grant awarded to Miami by the Ohio Board of Regents to establish early-career FLCs statewide. Based on these successes, the Ohio Learning Network, which assists colleges and universities in their capacity and effectiveness to use technology in instruction by supporting leading-edge activities, adapted Miami's FLC approach to accelerate Ohio institutions' work in providing resources for connecting technology and learning. Aided by a grant of 1.3 million, in the first year 2002-03, 23 colleges and universities were awarded funds to establish 31 FLCs.

To date, the OLN Learning Communities Initiative has facilitated practice-based professional development opportunities for approximately 550 learning community participants at 24 Ohio institutions, as well as countless others at these institutions who have provided essential support to learning community efforts. In 2007-08 alone, 18,489 students were taught or "touched" by members of OLN funded learning communities (15,337 in classrooms and 3,152 at a distance). Faculty within these learning communities report improvements in student engagement, grades, use of critical thinking skills, use of learning technologies, technology proficiency, and teamwork skills.

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.