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Faculty Learning Communities

A Faculty Learning Community is an active group of faculty who work collaboratively on an on-going basis by focusing on a particular pedagogical or research topic, issue in higher education, or who are at a similar academic career stage or share another identity. By design, faculty learning communities promote collegiality, and they also encourage innovation by providing a safe space to explore new ideas, experiment, and reflect with your colleagues.

Faculty Enrichment staff facilitate some learning communities, but we support faculty learning communities in a variety of other ways: selecting topics, identifying possible members, promotion and communication, logistical and financial support (including the use of Huntress 12 as a meeting space), research, help with data collection, and as participants in the groups.

To join a faculty learning community or any groups listed below, contact the facilitator or faculty mentioned in the description. If you have questions about faculty learning communities, want to form a new one, or already facilitate or participate in a group that we could add to this list, talk to the Coordinator of Faculty Enrichment Karen Cangialosi or Instructional Consultant Chris Odato.

New Faculty Learning Community

The New Faculty Learning Community is an intensive year-long cohort-based faculty learning community that addresses the specific needs of faculty who are in the first year of their jobs at Keene State College. The discussion topics and activities of the New Faculty Learning Community are shaped by the participants but, at least initially, they are facilitated by the Coordinator of Faculty Enrichment and other invited speakers. The New Faculty Learning Community gathers every three weeks for events such as a panel with new assistant professors from the previous year, tips for the first-year performance evaluation, best practices for advising and mentoring students, attending to the well-being of faculty themselves, inspiration from winners of the college’s Distinguished Teacher Award, teaching with academic technology or high-impact pedagogy, and issues of diversity and inclusion on campus.

Peer Faculty Mentor Program

New faculty have the opportunity to participate in the faculty mentoring program. We pair new faculty with seasoned faculty using best practices of faculty mentoring.The mentors and mentees gather for the first time in person for a luncheon and mentoring workshop during new faculty orientation, meet one-on-one throughout the academic year, and are invited to participate in special social gatherings off-campus and other mentoring workshops. This program is topic-and-cohort based since it addresses the specific needs of new faculty and their mentors. The discussion topics and activities are shaped by the participants and facilitated by the Coordinator of Faculty Enrichment.

Department Chair Roundtables

Department Chair Roundtables addresses the specific needs of new department chairs, other current department chairs, or faculty who might soon become chair. Department Chair Roundtables occur two to three times a semester and are co-facilitated by peer department chairs, the Coordinator of Faculty Enrichment, and other invited faculty or administrators who offer expertise on a particular topic. Sample discussion topics include what are the responsibilities of department chairs and specific strategies to succeed at those tasks, developing and implementing long-range department goals and vision, how to cultivate community and teamwork, conflict management and interpersonal communication, resource allocation and budget management, and tips for marketing and promotion.

Teaching Innovation Studios

Teaching Innovation Studios are opportunities for faculty to join in-depth exchanges of ideas around a selected topic related to college teaching, with a focus on participants sharing their strategies (e.g. successes and challenges) and engaging in discussion with their colleagues about ideas, questions, and recommendations. Examples of past topics include student empowerment and learner-centered teaching, active learning strategies, self- and peer assessment, alternative approaches to final assessments, structuring successful group work, efficient course design strategies, and making larger classes feel small. The Teaching Innovation Studios will continue in AY 2018-19. Visit this site for descriptions and resources from past studios.

Teaching and Learning Book Club

The Teaching and Learning Book Club provides participants with an opportunity to learn from recently published books about college teaching and larger issues in higher education. They engage in cross-disciplinary discussions and apply what they learn to their individual courses, with the potential to initiate broader implementation across their departments and campus. Books read in the past include Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty by James M. Lang (Harvard University Press, 2013), How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching by Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, & Marie K. Norman (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel (Belknap Press, 2014), The First Generation Student Experience by Jeff Davis (Stylus, 2010), and The New Education by Cathy Davidson. Please contact Chris Odato if you are interested in joining us.

Teaching Writing and Thinking Learning Community

Kate Tirabassi, Director of the Center for Writing, and Mark Long, Director of the Integrative Studies Program continue to co-facilitate this ongoing topic-based faculty learning community that meets a few times a semester to discuss books and other published research about how to teach writing and critical thinking. One example includes, Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom by John Bean (Jossey-Bass, 2011).

Open Pedagogy Learning Community

The Open Pedagogy Learning Community is a group of interested faculty who meet regularly to read about, discuss, and practice the principles of open pedagogy. An open pedagogical approach emphasizes collaboration and community, promotes student agency, encourages students to participate in their learning with an audience that goes beyond just their professor, their classroom, and their institution. In doing so, it changes the way students think about and take ownership of their learning, fostering an environment for students to become creators, not just consumers of knowledge. We share ideas and experiences, discuss the philosophy of ‘Open’, wrestle with the problems and challenges it presents, and read about what others around the world are doing to transform student learning using open pedagogy. This topic-based learning community is facilitated by Karen Cangialosi, please contact Karen if you are interested in joining us.

LLC Faculty Learning Community

During Academic Year 2015-2016, a Living and Learning Community (LLC) Task Force was charged by the Provost to implement the Strategic Plan’s recommendation to build a LLC program at Keene State College. This LLC Task Force, now known as the LLC Oversight Committee, is made up of faculty and administrators from Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Faculty from more than 10 different disciplines across the college taught 2017-2018 First-Year LLCs in the Living-Learning Commons. The Living and Learning Commons is the newest residential hall. The building opened for the Fall 2016 semester with a state-of-the-art design that is meant for first-year LLCs. Graham Warder leads the group since he is the current faculty co-chair of the LLC Oversight Committee and has also taught LLC courses before. This learning community is topic-based since it addresses the specific needs of faculty teaching LLCs.

Some current faculty members in this learning community include Shari Bemis, Chris Burke, Stephen Clark, Chris Cusack, Harlan Fichtenholtz, Renate Gebauer, Sasha Davis, Randall Hoyt, Taneem Husain, Greg Knouff, Irene McGarrity, Dena Shields, Karen Stanish, Jim Waller, Tom Webler, Deb White-Stanley, and Graham Warder.

Peer Observations of Teaching, Teaching Squares, and Open Classroom Days

During Academic Year 2015-2016, Dottie Bauer and Pru Cuper, both full Professors in the Department of Education, collaborated with Instructional Consultant Chris Odato to design and run a series of workshops to support faculty in preparing, conducting, and debriefing peer faculty observations of teaching. This workshop series continued during the Fall 2016 semester.

Starting in the Fall 2017 semester, Instructional Consultant Chris Odato is spearheading the pilot of a Teaching Squares program, in which groups of four faculty observe each other’s classes informally as an opportunity both to receive feedback and to learn from colleagues.

Another opportunity to observe peers teach is to participate in Open Classroom Days, a two-week open house in which faculty from all ranks and disciplines open their classrooms for their colleagues to visit. Faculty Enrichment ran this program for the first time during the Spring 2017 semester in response to input from faculty themselves who wanted another structure to informally observe each other’s teaching as a catalyst for discussion and collaboration, as an effort to promote and facilitate these conversations, and to recognize our faculty’s dedication to teaching and learning. Open Classroom Days this fall is scheduled for the two-week period of October 2 to October 13, 2017. Click here to view the list of open class sessions and sign up to visit open classes.

Pedagogical Journal Club

During the Spring 2017 Chitra Akkoor, Associate Professor of Communication and Faculty Fellow in Faculty Enrichment for the Spring 2017 semester, and Instructional Consultant Chris Odato facilitated a Pedagogical Journal Club focusing on scholarship about first-generation college students. Each month we selected a peer-reviewed academic journal article to read and discuss as a group, with discussion focusing on how we can apply insights from this research to make our classrooms more effective learning environments for this student population. Please contact Chris Odato if you are interested in joining a journal club in Spring 2018.

Team-Based Learning Group

In March 2017 the Teaching Innovation Studios group organized a workshop (supported by a Faculty Enrichment Grant) on Team-Based Learning (TBL), a collaborative learning strategy that engages students in higher-order thinking during class. Inspired by the workshop, a group of faculty, in collaboration with Instructional Consultant Chris Odato, decided to form a learning community for faculty who plan to implement some form of TBL in their courses, including meeting to workshop TBL materials for their courses and supporting each other through the course redesign process.

Faculty members participating in this learning community include Irene McGarrity, Dudley Blossom, Sarah McGregor, Craig Sylvern, and Chris Burke.

Faculty Write-On-Site at the Writers’ Nook

During Academic Year 2016-2017, Director of the Center for Writing Kate Tirabassi and then Coordinator of Faculty Enrichment Jamie Landau collaborated to create a Writers’ Nook in the Center for Writing to offer a space on campus for faculty to write-on-site together. This was piloted in response to feedback from faculty across ranks and disciplines who expressed a need for more support of their scholarly agendas and, specifically, desired community, accountability, and physical space on campus to gather with their colleagues while writing. During the Fall 2017 semester, the Writers’ Nook in the Center for Writing is open and available for faculty to use to write-on-site every Friday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. (except Fall Break/Oct. 6 and the college’s observance of Veteran’s Day/Nov. 10), Thursday, Oct. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 1 from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

Faculty Writing Accountability Groups

After attending the college’s first-ever Faculty Writing Retreat in summer 2017 that was co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Faculty Enrichment, Assistant Professor of Communication Amber Davisson decided to form and facilitate a faculty learning community for writing. She solicited participants from across campus, which resulted in two Faculty Writing Accountability Groups meeting throughout Academic Year 2017-2018. Members of these groups commit to writing for at least 15 minutes every weekday and to meeting once a week for 30 minutes to check in, discuss ongoing projects, and hold each other accountable to daily writing habits that help maintain their research agendas. As a guide, the groups use Wendy Belcher’s 2009 book, Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success.

Some current faculty members in this learning community include Chitra Akkoor, Amber Davisson, Jillian Descoteaux, Marie Duggan, Harlan Fichtenholtz, Ashley Greene, Peter Greene, Patricia Pedroza Gonzalez, Whitney Hightower, Jayme Hines, Taneem Husain, Irene McGarrity, Meriem Pages, Therese Seibert, Karen Stanish, Kate Tirabassi, Nicole Wengerd, and Susan Whittemore.

Exploring Creating Writing

During the Spring 2018 semester, Associate Professor of English Meriem Pages approached Faculty Enrichment with an idea for another writing-related faculty learning community. After the Coordinator of Faculty Enrichment helped solicit participants from across campus, interested faculty met to discuss their needs and named the group "Exploring Creative Writing." This faculty learning community, co-facilitated by Meriem Pages and Irene McGarrity, supports faculty who are exploring creative writing styles that are different from their primary scholarship. This group provides a non-judgmental, supportive environment. Members of this group commit to working on their writing and checking in with each other in person every week for 30 minutes to discuss their progress and concerns, to provide support and accountability, and to workshop their writing. On the fourth week of each month, the group gathers for an hour to provide lengthier feedback on each other’s writing, or to meet with a guest speaker.

Current members in this faculty learning community include Patricia Pedroza Gonzalez, Irene McGarrity, Margaret Orelup, Meriem Pages, Kirstin Riegler, and Peggy Walsh.

Humanities Faculty Research Group

During Academic Year 2012-2013, several junior faculty in the humanities expressed the need for research and writing groups when asked for feedback from the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research about how to support faculty in their research agendas. Jamie Landau, who at the time was an Assistant Professor of Communication, applied for and received an Indirect Cost Reinvestment Grant to cover expenses related to the formation and first gathering of the Humanities Faculty Research Group. She then led the Humanities Faculty Research Group for several years. Lisa DiGiovanni now facilitates this group that includes faculty who span in ranks and have various humanities backgrounds. Once a month every semester, this group meets for 1.5 hours on a late Friday afternoon to workshop scholarship-in-progress that is written by one of its members so as to revise it for publication, motivate their research agendas, and engage in cutting-edge interdisciplinary conversations.

Current faculty members in this learning community include Amber Davisson, Sasha Davis, Lisa DiGiovanni, Ashley Greene, Peter Greene, Taneem Husain, Sander Lee, Emily McGill, Emily Robins Sharpe, and Jim Waller.

Holocaust and Genocide Studies Study Group

The Holocaust and Genocide Studies (HGS) Study Group began years ago as educational public outreach by the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. When the college launched a Holocaust and Genocide Studies major for academic year 2010-2011, the study group grew to include even more faculty and students from Keene State College. This group gathers monthly during the fall and spring semesters (usually on Thursdays toward the end of the work day) to read scholarly literature or other texts related to the Holocaust and genocide, including research written by participants in the group. The HGS Study Group is co-facilitated by Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Jim Waller and the Cohen Center Director Hank Knight.

Some past and current faculty members in this group include Larry Benaquist, Philip Barker, Rosemarie Bernardi, Lisa DiGiovanni, Len Fleischer, Renate Gebauer, Ashley Greene, Peter Greene, Hank Knight, Sander Lee, Irina Leimbacher, Emily Robins Sharpe, Therese Seibert, John Sturtz, Jim Waller, and Paul Vincent.

Contact Faculty Enrichment

Linda Farina
Program Support Coordinator
Office: Hale Building 104
Phone: 603-358-2900
Mailstop: 3535

We want your feedback: To help us improve programming, click on the link below to answer brief questions on this anonymous Faculty Enrichment Feedback Form.