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Research

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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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