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Michael D. Eisner College of Education

College of Education

Personnel Directory

Cynthia Desrochers

Cynthia  Desrochers
Department of Elementary Education
Office:ED 3128
Phone:818 677 7892



Dr. Cynthia G. Desrochers has been a professor of education at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), since 1982. She entered the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) in May 2011. Early in her career at CSUN, she directed a successful Clinical Supervision grant (3 years), coordinated student teaching for over 600 students annually (9 years), founded the campus Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (10 years), and served as member and chair of the College personnel committee (12 years).

Cynthia is a CSUN Distinguished Teaching Award recipient (1990). She has consulted and given workshops in 27 states, Italy, and Chile. Moreover, she is a past president of the CSU Faculty Development Council and has been a member of the governing board of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, the largest organization of college-level faculty developers in the world. Cynthia directed the Institute for Teaching and Learning (2006-2011) at the CSU Chancellor?s Office, the 23-CSU-campus system office in Long Beach, where she designed teaching-learning enhancement programs, grants, and Faculty Learning Communities throughout California. Now back at her home campus, Northridge, Cynthia is currently spearheading projects out of the Dean?s Office in the College of Education.

Prior to joining the faculty at CSUN, Cynthia was an instructor at UCLA in the School of Education, taught 5-6th grades in an urban inner-city neighborhood in Los Angeles (3 years), and taught at UCLA's Lab School (8 years). In addition, she earned her BA, master's degree, doctorate, K-9 teaching credential, and administrative services credential from UCLA. Her research interests include: how people learn (brain science implications), learning in groups, supervision and coaching, faculty communities of practice, and organizational understanding.


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Desrochers, C (2013). Modifying courses for a new economic reality: A statewide solution involving faculty learning communities. Learning Communities Journal, 5, 123-149.


This study analyzes the impact of a condensed 6-month faculty learning community (FLC) model on a variety of both FLC facilitators' and FLC participants' professional-development outcomes at 14 California State University (CSU) campuses during budget-tight times. The majority of FLC facilitators were faculty development center directors, who recruited 4-11 faculty from diverse disciplines to join an FLC that was focused on a facilitator-selected topic within the theme of Course Modifications for Our New Reality (referring to CSU system-wide mandatory two-day-per month faculty-furlough program instituted in the fall of that year). Predicting that FLCs were potentially useful vehicles for organizational change, members of the FLCs at each campus met on a regular basis to address current issues resulting from the CSU's substantial budget shortfall of $625 million--issues such as fewer class-meeting days, increased class size, and poor faculty morale. At the conclusion of the year's FLC work, the CSU's system-level faculty development unit surveyed both FLC facilitators and participants, and the outcomes reported here indicate that the FLC approach as designed was successful but could be improved. As a result, the CSU system has funded FLCs for a second year and has made the modifications as indicated by the survey.

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Nagy-Shadman, E. Desrochers, C. (2008).  Student response technology:  Empirically grounded or just a gimmick?  International Journal of Science Education (pp. 1-44).


The daily use of a student response system in freshman geology classes was systematically studied over multiple sections and years.  Data collected and analyzed looked at student satisfaction variables and "clicker" usage.

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Desrochers, C. (2009).  Magicians of the golden state: The CSU center director disappearing acts.  In L. B. Nilson (Ed.) To improve the academy: Vol 27. Resources for faculty, instructional, and organizational development (pp. 88-107).  Bolton, MA: Anker.


The California State University (CSU) Teaching and Learning Center directors perform daily feats of magic, often culminating in one particularly dramatic trick at the end of the academic year—their own disappearing acts.  This chapter traces the history of the center director position in the CSU system, reports where directors go when they leave the position after only a few years, and proposes how frequent turnover might be reversed through organizational factors aimed at promoting retention of these Magicians of the Golden State.

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Desrochers, C. (2011).  Faculty learning communities as catalysts for implementing successful small group learning. In J. Cooper & P. Robinson (Eds.), Small group learning in higher education: Research and practice (pp.130-138). Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.


A review of the research on implementing small group learning at the university level shows that although this powerful intervention is generally well accepted, there are still obstacles to its wider use among faculty.  This article posits that one reason for this is that the workshop method of faculty development is insufficient to promote faculty change; moreover, over the past four years, many of the 23 teaching and learning centers in the California State University (CSU) system have created faculty learning communities (FLCs) to promote changes in faculty teaching practices that are not typically attainable from even the best one-shot workshop.  A small-scale study was conducted of faculty developers from the CSU, University of California, and private colleges in southern California to determine what information they deem essential for a Faculty Developers’ Guide.  They unanimously suggested the following components: (1) The literature base for the pedagogical theme, emphasizing its impact on student learning; (2) A condensed summary of the basic vocabulary, concepts, and information associated with the pedagogical theme; (3) Suggested learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessments; and (4) An online commons for faculty to discuss their use of the pedagogical theme.  This article presents a detailed Faculty Developers’ FLC Guide to Using Small Group Learning, applying the four components above.

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