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Research

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Bhavsar, G.P., Grote, K.G., Galvan, M.C., Tyutina, S.V., Guan, S.A., Stapleton, L.D., & Knotts, G. (2018). Evaluation of first-year faculty learning communities on teaching effectiveness and scholarship: An exploratory study. Journal of Faculty Development, 32(2), 1-8. 

Abstract

Faculty in their early careers discover unique and unanticipated concerns in navigating academia and attempting to create life balance.  These needs must be addressed to ensure retention and success in the tenure process.  This exploratory study found the creation of first-year faculty learning communities (FLCs) provides needed, integral, and engaging support to encourage balance in teaching effectiveness, scholarship, and service and to increase confidence in comprehending a university’s tenure process.  More broadly, offices of faculty development on university campuses should prioritize long-term, evidence-based support to assist new faculty as they transition into the demands of a tenure-track position.

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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.

Abstract

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

Abstract

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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