Teaching and Learning Centers Program Spotlight
Learning Communities Faculty Scholars Course
Learning communities (LCs) at Kennesaw State University (KSU) are comprised of groups of up to 25 students who co-enroll in two or more classes that are linked by a common theme. The themes can focus on majors such as business, nursing, education, or dance; or can be topic-based, such as themes that focus on social justice, gender studies, or “green” living (http://uc.kennesaw.edu/fyts/programs/learningcommunity.php). At KSU, there is a strong focus on fostering community, and an expectation of intentional collaboration between faculty who teach the linked courses.
Dr. Hillary Steiner is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, and Associate Director for Faculty Development and SoTL for the Learning Communities Program. After a conversation at the National Summer Institute on Learning Communities about the need for faculty development in this area, she decided to design an online course for faculty who were interested in “going deeper into the literature on learning communities, and wanted to connect that knowledge to scholarship.”
In collaboration with the Distance Learning Center at KSU, and with support from University College (her college within KSU), Dr. Steiner designed and developed an “online, asynchronous, six-week course designed to encourage and support the development of scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching within the context of learning communities” (http://uc.kennesaw.edu/fyts/programs/learningcommunities/lcfs.php).
The course is divided into five content modules, bookended by an introduction module and a reflections module. Each module has a series of activities that includes readings, videos, discussions, and active learning assignments. All major assignments are designed to be applied directly to their learning communities course. Module topics include the science of teaching and learning, student development in the first year and beyond, learning communities, building integrative assignments, and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).
With the goals of 1) investigating their students’ learning, and 2) contributing to the scholarly research in the area of Learning Communities, the final module has faculty designing their own SoTL project based on a question they have about their classroom.
The Learning Communities Faculty Scholars Course has been offered to KSU faculty for the past two years. Responding to a need at the national level, the course is now available to non-KSU faculty for a fee. For more information about the Learning Communities Faculty Scholars Course, visit the program website, or contact Dr. Hillary Steiner.
Photo: Students in Dr. Steiner’s Pursuit of Happiness LC, volunteering at the City of Kennesaw’s “Worldwide Day of Play” in September, 2016. Photo credit: Hillary Steiner. Used with permission.