Office of the
Provost

Faculty Learning Communities

The Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, as part of RooSTRONG, is funding faculty participation in learning communities to explore their teaching practice. Each year the Provost Office will announce faculty learning communities across a range of topics related to student success and the strategic plan.

Faculty Learning Communities

A Faculty Learning Community (FLC) is a peer-led group of faculty members (non-tenure track, tenure track, and tenured) who engage in an active, collaborative, program, structured to provide encouragement, support, and reflection. FLC members work together to produce outcomes or products about teaching and learning. Through FLCs, faculty members engage in scholarly teaching and student-centered learning, collaborating within a collegial framework that offers peer review and support. 

FLCs are inclusive spaces where members exchange experiences, ideas, and strategies about teaching, experiment with research-based practices, build skills, and reflect on their roles as educators. Faculty have a significant voice in shaping the program based on their own needs, skills, and goals.

During AY2021, FLCs will meet approximately 10 times during fall and spring semester. Participant availability, to the extent possible, will determine the dates and times of FLC meetings. The goal is to begin at the end of October, meet approximately every other week, excluding the week before and the week of spring break, and conclude by mid-April. Each community has two types of outcomes—individual changes to one's own practice, and a group "give back" to the larger UMKC teaching community. 

Expectations:

  • Integrate new practices into their teaching. Related activities include: actively preparing and participating in the FLC meetings (six times per semester) and review and revise course materials (e.g., syllabi, learning outcomes, and class activities).
  • Build collaborative relationships with colleagues. Related activities include sharing experiences, successes, and challenges with peers in the FLCs.
  • Articulate the process for the development of skills for reflective teaching. Related activities include writing reflections about outcomes of the FLCs on teaching, networking, and scholarship.
  • Disseminate practices and scholarship at and beyond UMKC. Related activities include: sharing work by providing a presentation, instructional resource materials (e.g., a classroom activity), or publication of findings at a UMKC event or external venues.

A faculty facilitator will lead each FLC with logistical support from Alexis Petri.

Stipends are available for each participant for $500, which participants can receive either as extra salary, given to a student scholarship fund of the faculty member's choice, or transferred to a research account for use for travel, technology, or teaching tools (when unfrozen). Each FLC will have a minimum of five and a maximum of ten participants.

Supporting Faculty Learning Communities is part of UMKC's investment in student success through RooSTRONG. Faculty learning communities support student success by providing faculty an opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the university and engage together in professional learning. 

All UMKC faculty members - tenure track, tenured, and non-tenure-track -- are encouraged to participate in FLCs.

Facilitated by University Writing and Reading Board Members  Antonio Byrd, Thomas Ferrel, and Margaret Kincaid

This faculty learning community (FLC) focuses on (1) how and why faculty write differently in their disciplines and (2) how to articulate and apply threshold concepts in writing studies and one’s own discipline. Threshold concepts are “established and widely agreed-upon knowledge/ideas/orientations” that have come to be “foundational” for successfully entering a discipline, according to the editors of (Re)Considering What We Know: Learning Thresholds in Writing, Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy (23).

Modeled after the Howe Center for Writing Excellence’s Faculty Writing Fellows Program at Miami University, this FLC brings together WI faculty from across the university to learn from the expertise about writing in one’s discipline that everyone brings with them to their classroom and scholarship. This FLC not only facilitates individual learning about effective writing instruction and assignment design practices but also makes visible the knowledgeable, diverse, creative culture(s) of writing at UMKC.

This Faculty Learning Community convenes WI faculty to discuss threshold concepts in writing studies and in their individual disciplines. These discussions address how and why we write differently in our disciplines. Based upon these conversations, faculty choose to revise an assignment, unit, or the syllabus of their existing WI course with the intention to teach these revised courses/assignments in the next semester or within the next academic year. 

Faculty writers fall 2020
Name Title Academic Unit Department
Lori Sexton Associate Professor College of Arts and Sciences Criminal Justice and Criminology
Stephen John Dilks Professor College of Arts and Sciences English
Shannon Jackson Associate Professor College of Arts and Sciences Sociology
Li Zhongjin Assistant Professor College of Arts and Sciences Economics
Ryan Mohan Assistant Professor School of Biology and Chemical Sciences Department of Genetics, Developmental, and Evolutionary Biology
Jess Magana Assistant Teaching Professor School of Biology and Chemical Sciences Department of Genetics, Developmental, and Evolutionary Biology
Shuo Han Research Faculty School of Biology and Chemical Sciences Department of Cell and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Rachael Allen Assistant Teaching Professor School of Computing and Engineering Civil & Mechanical Engineering
Katherine Bloemker Teaching Professor School of Computing and Engineering Civil & Mechanical Engineering
Thiagarajan Ganesh Professor School of Computing and Engineering Civil & Mechanical Engineering

Facilitated by Arthur “Gus” Jacob

UMKC faculty teach students who recently graduated from high school and it may have been a while since faculty were in a high school classroom. High school teachers prepare students for college, while the school guidance counselor typically interacts with the colleges. College faculty may know about high school – they went to high school – and yet many things have changed. Faculty from other countries may also be intrigued about U.S. high schools. Let’s talk about transition! 

A vertical team is a group of educators at various grade levels who work together to help more students acquire the academic skills necessary for success. Typically, vertical teams are comprised of educators in the same district to assist with the transition from middle school to high school. In vertical teams, teachers representing multiple grade levels across subject area expertise collaborate. For this vertical team, we will partner with urban high schools in the Kansas City Public School attendance boundary (both KCPS and charter schools). UMKC faculty who teach first-year students will benefit from learning more about urban high school experiences and high school teachers will benefit from learning more about the college classroom and faculty experiences with incoming first-time college students.

The FLC meets on Zoom, just after “the last bell.” We are hopeful that the last two meetings will be able to take place safely, in person.