On this page, explore current and past Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs). Joining an FLC is a great way for faculty to meet colleagues from different disciplines across the university and to learn about a focused pedagogy in a community setting. What are you interested in exploring?
To hear more about what it’s like to participate in an FLC, we invite you to view short videos (2-3 minutes each) of the 2021-2022 FLC facilitators talking about their experiences:
“Change the World from Here AND There: Integrating Global Perspectives into Our Work” (Dana Zartner)
“Compassion-Based Teaching and Learning: Applying the Science of Compassion in Our Work” (Jude Wolf)
“Sandbox Pedagogy” (Steve Zavestoski)
Interested in learning more about FLCs? We recommend this resource from the Miami University.
2023-24 Faculty Learning Communities
Pedagogy for the Age of AI: Responding to and Learning From AI-generated Content, co-facilitated by Chris Brooks (CAS, Computer Science) and Nicole Gonzales Howell (CAS, Rhetoric, and Language)
Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, Bard, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney have, in a very short time, upended academia and the ways in which we teach. These tools allow users to provide a text prompt and generate extremely sophisticated texts and images. While this has raised concerns in some quarters about the ease of plagiarism, generative AI also provides the opportunity to be a powerful new tool for teaching about tasks from writing to programming to design. For example, students can use ChatGPT as a tool for generating ideas for essays, or to write paragraphs with intentionally bad grammar that can be corrected, or code to solve simple problems. One interesting aspect of generative AI tools is their lack of an internal model; this causes them to generate text or images that seem believable but are wrong. The ability to identify this sort of content, and question the veracity of sources, is also an essential skill for our students to learn.
In this FLC, we will explore and develop ways in which generative AI can be used to support new pedagogies across disciplines and learning modes, and better teach students the critical thinking and analysis skills they will need to survive in a world of AI-generated content. In particular, together we hope to develop a USF-centric toolkit that provides pedagogical strategies and exercises for effectively applying Generative AI as a learning and support tool across the disciplines.
Re-Envisioning Grading Systems to Advance Equity & Effectiveness in Teaching, co-facilitated by Dhara Meghani and Alette Coble-Temple (School of Nursing and Health Professions, Clinical Psychology PsyD Program)
Grading is widely accepted as a fundamental requirement of the teaching and learning process in higher education. It is assumed that grading is necessary for motivating students; assessing their learning; setting high standards for achievement; and ensuring a meritocratic system in which everyone is given the same opportunity to succeed based on their own hard work, aptitude, and objective performance.
But what if none of these assumptions are true? Contrary to popular belief, abundant research shows that traditional grading practices actually undermine academic motivation, do not help students improve future performance, and are in any event highly inaccurate and unreliable in assessing students. Perhaps most importantly, current grading structures privilege students who acquire knowledge in a conventionally structured, traditional style of learning and who have consistent familial and financial support for their educational pursuits.
In order for all of our students to effectively meet learning competencies, our grading systems must encourage mistakes rather than punish them and must be reconceptualized and recalibrated to instill hope and a desire to learn. As academic professionals, it is our calling to follow the research on how best to promote student learning. And as instructors at a university grounded in social justice values, it is our duty to re-envision how to ethically and equitably assess a student's acquisition of knowledge. This Faculty Learning Community will review the literature on the history, theory, and principles of grading to help us look beyond the status quo and promote changes to the grading system that will improve both equity and effectiveness in our teaching practices.
Post-Pandemic Learning, facilitated by Keally McBride (CAS, Politics)
What are the continuing impacts of the pandemic on student learning? Some of these impacts may be related to trauma, others may be related to a cultural shift around learning and higher education more broadly. This FLC will look at existing studies around post-pandemic learning in higher ed. It will also organize several focus groups with current USF students to get their insights, which will be used to further direct our collective inquiries. The goal of the group is to explore how teaching and learning can evolve in order to meet the changing needs of our students. One possibility is that this group could help produce ideas and research to develop a grant for USF to implement pilot programs intended to address post-pandemic trends to improve our students’ learning. But ultimately, the direction of the group will be determined collectively by our research and our conversations with students and one another.
‘Zine Making as Transformative Pedagogy
Facilitator: Adrienne Johnson (Environmental Studies)
‘Zines' have long been us
ed as a tool to disseminate information and material to the masses. Zines, which are self-published, do-it-yourself (DIY) booklets, often contain bold images and text that aim to inspire and revolutionize. They can reflect deeply personal work. Most importantly, they allow for the authentic, creative expression of ideas often considered ‘fringe.’ In contemporary times, zines have played a key role in the communication of messages and actions linked to anti-oppression movements, environmental justice, and mutual aid. Tapping into the transformative and subversive, yet playful potential zines can have in spaces of higher education, many educators have begun to employ zine-making techniques and zine pedagogy in the classroom, seeing them as ways to “repurpose universities into more generative, loving spaces for engaged learning and living” (Bagelman and Bagelman, 2016: 365).
This FLC will examine the pedagogical value of zines in transformative social justice teaching and learning in the classroom. It will explore the strengths, limitations, and opportunities of zine-making and how zines can be used as effective classroom tools to inspire critical student thinking, reflective dialogue, and meaningful action. Lastly, the FLC will examine how zine pedagogy links to broader academic movements to democratize knowledge production and dissemination practices such as open education resources (OER) and open-access publishing.
Knowledge Sovereignty and Indigenizing Universities
Facilitator: Kouslaa Kessler-Mata (Politics)
What does it mean to integrate or incorporate Indigenous knowledge into University instruction? How can we do this responsibly and respectfully in a way that does not replicate inequitable, extractive practices that harm communities? What is data sovereignty and what are Indigenous research methods? In this FLC, faculty will consider questions that push us to think about the challenges in decolonizing university teaching and learning. We will read works from Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors about decolonial and anticolonial research practices and discuss whether and how to employ these practices and considerations to develop our department’s courses and curriculum.
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Change the World from Here AND There: Integrating Global Perspectives into Our Work
Facilitator: Dana Zartner (International Studies)
The pandemic has changed many things about higher education. One of the areas most impacted is internationalization, an area that includes study abroad and the enrollment of international students at USF, but also faculty and graduate student research abroad as well as global conferences and professional development opportunities. As we look forward to the next academic year and a hopeful return to a more “normal” college experience, we must ask ourselves what the global components of higher education will, and should, look like moving forward. This FLC will explore internationalization at USF, where our mission, values, and strategic planning all include global language without a great deal of detail. As a group, we will reflect on these issues and how they are relevant to our own courses and research, but also the role of the global at USF as a whole and how we might want to reimagine our global work after the pandemic. The goals of this FLC include assisting participants with developing the global aspects of their research, pedagogy, and programs, as well as collaborating with the Faculty Advisory Board on Internationalization and the Office of International Initiatives on global-themed policies and programs at USF. Provided university and SFDPH rules allow, this FLC will meet in-person only to facilitate community and promote engaged discussion.
Compassion Based Teaching and Learning: Applying the Science of Compassion in Our Work
Facilitator: Jude Wolf (Teacher Education)
Research in the science of compassion has increased over the past two decades with empirical data showing benefits in participants' overall well-being. Outcomes of research also show links to increases in altruistic traits in participants. As our society learns to live with the effects of the pandemic, it is most urgent to reconnect with the basic tenets of compassion. This FLC will focus on identifying the qualities and traits of compassion and work to integrate these traits in course design, instruction, and assessments. We are the custodians of our students’ academic and social-emotional identities, and it is incumbent upon us to model compassion and explicitly teach compassion principles in all our courses. We will begin by understanding the components of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) from Stanford's CCARE program and the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program by Neff & Germer. We will then analyze our course syllabi and infuse these principles where appropriate. Measures of effectiveness will include self-report surveys, quality of effectiveness rubrics, and other anecdotal interviews. The overall FLC experience will reconnect participants to their purpose and values that first led them to the ministry of teaching.
Facilitator: Stephen Zavestoski (Environmental Studies)
What is required to navigate a world redefined by the shocks and disruptions brought on by a global pandemic, climate change, and a reckoning with racial inequality and injustice? How can we adapt as educators to this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world? What kinds of radical pedagogical experiments should we consider? In the gaming world sandbox games establish certain parameters and then give players freedom within those parameters to deploy creative approaches towards a goal. What would it look like to adopt a "sandbox" approach to organizing a course? Since there is no formal concept or practice of sandbox pedagogy, we'll get "meta" and organize the FLC itself as a sandbox. We will collaborate in the sandbox to see what questions emerge and to explore how or if sandbox pedagogy can be deployed in our respective disciplines and courses. The developers of sandbox games are often surprised and delighted (and sometimes horrified) by what players build or create within their games. Could sandbox pedagogy similarly result in surprise and delight in the ways that a learning community forms, how students learn, and what they build or create? Let's jump into our own sandbox to explore these questions...
More Past FLCs
Building a Trauma-Informed Campus as Part of the Jesuit Mission for the 21st Century
Co-Facilitators: Lindsay Gifford (International Studies, Anthropology, Middle Eastern Studies) and Dana Zartner (International Studies, Environmental Studies, School of Law)
Building on faculty brainstorming sessions held last year, this FLC will consider the possibilities for a trauma informed campus (TIC) at USF. A TIC is one that recognizes the impacts that both primary and secondary trauma may have on our university community. Primary trauma—such as sexual assault, racism and discrimination, and recent issues such as the pandemic—are a big part of this discussion. This FLC will also consider the secondary trauma that can arise through the difficult material we teach and the work we do in our classes and communities, and through our own research. A TIC works to inform all aspects of the university experience (study, research, working, living) on issues relating to trauma in all its forms, with an emphasis on providing tools to address these issues. We will also explore how a TIC is related to the Jesuit mission of educating the whole person (cura personalis), and how principles of a TIC could be integrated into USF policies, activities, and learning as part of our social justice mission and educational approach.
Project-Based Learning (PBL) & Makerspaces
Facilitator: Julia Thompson (Engineering)
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an experiential learning approach that organizes learning within authentic and complex projects and in which the teacher’s role is that of facilitator rather than expert. The PBL approach integrates teamwork, communication, project management, etc. within the traditional content knowledge. This approach can be a central portion of the educational process, or an additional project within a lecture-based course.
In this FLC, members will explore project-based learning and also participate in a project themselves to learn the equipment and resources that USF has to offer. This includes the innovation spaces with equipment (e.g., 3D printers, laser cutters, virtual-reality headsets, and other technologies), active learning spaces, and mixed media equipment. As a community, we will devise project(s) we want to work on, learn about equipment and/or resources, work on the projects in groups, and then reflect on the experience to better understand the experiences of our students.
Examining the Impact of Grading Practices on Student Learning
Facilitator: Nicole Gonzales Howell (Rhetoric and Language, Arts and Sciences)
This FLC aims to bring together faculty members to examine, understand, and design/redesign their grading practices in order to best support student learning across diverse cultural communities (race, class, ability, etc.). While this FLC will focus on the use of grading contracts as a framework, we will also take the necessary time to examine whether or not (and how) current grading practices align with participants’ pedagogical values. Specifically, participants will examine examples of grading mechanisms such as grading contracts, work and grade agreements, and specification grading models in order to consider the pedagogical advantages and disadvantages of implementing new grading practices in their classes.
The Invisible Labor of Faculty of Color
Facilitator: Ursula Aldana (School of Education)
Research demonstrates faculty of color experience the academy differently than their white colleagues. Race and ethnicity continue to be salient for faculty of color, often intersecting with other identities, influencing their teaching, research and service. How does the university’s interest in diversity and a commitment to social justice relate to the “invisible labor” that overwhelmingly impacts faculty of color? This FLC will provide faculty the opportunity to explore how faculty diversity can embody critical knowledge and challenge oppressive structures and practices in higher education.
E-Portfolios as an Effective Teaching Tool
Facilitator: June Lee (School of Management)
The purpose of this FLC is to bring together faculty members across different disciplines to understand, explore, and incorporate elements of e-Portfolios into our teaching. Much like an art portfolio that shows the artist's development of skills and ideas over a period of time, the e-Portfolio is an electronic or online collection of evidence of student learning. Prior studies have demonstrated that e-Portfolios can facilitate student reflections across different courses, disciplines, and degree programs. It is an effective tool that helps students set and achieve personal learning goals. This FLC will review current literature on e-Portfolios, discuss pedagogical advantages and disadvantages, consider how it can be applied to our courses, and showcase a few examples.
Supporting First-Generation College Students in Classrooms, Across Schools and Divisions, and Beyond
Facilitators: Charlene Lobo Soriano (Center for Academic and Student Achievement) and Noriko Milman (College of Arts and Sciences)
First-generation college students comprise 33% of the incoming class at USF. Diverse in many ways, first-generation college students come to the University with challenges unique to them. Exploring the experiences of first-generation college students will reveal the challenges they face, how they navigate, and the people important in that process. We also want to find out what’s working—and what’s missing—in the university’s efforts to serve, teach, and support first-generation college students. This FLC will engage in learning about the needs—and assets—of first-generation college students from multiple angles, and will share with the community best practices to support their success.
Walking the Walk: Teaching Cultural Competence, Awareness, and Humility
Facilitator: Dellanira Garcia
By 2050, almost half of the U.S. population will be composed of ethnic minorities (U.S. Census, 2010). USF is recognized as a “university with a global perspective that educates leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world.” In order to advance our vision, undergraduate and graduate students must learn to lead, teach, and embody culturally competent knowledge and skills. This FLC will bring faculty from multiple disciplines together to discuss the teaching of cultural competence, cultural awareness, and cultural humility. We’ll explore pedagogical exercises and innovative techniques for graduate and undergraduate courses. We’ll discuss learning outcomes in these domains for undergraduate and graduate students, explore how to develop and grade assignments, and how to effectively measure culturally competent knowledge and skills.
Multimodal Communication across the Curriculum and in the Disciplines
Facilitators: Cathy Gabor and Michelle LaVigne
This FLC will address head-on the perceived lack of expertise in teaching rhetoric among the non-Rhetoric faculty. By forming a deep understanding of communication practices and expectations in the various disciplines represented, this FLC will allow us to define what oral and written rhetoric means in various fields, as well as discuss best pedagogical strategies for teaching students to communicate in their majors, in their future careers, and as productive citizens at and beyond USF. We will start by looking at the most notable publications on writing and communication in the majors to understand and articulate the epistemologies that inform how we conceive of and assess skillful student communication in written, oral, and digital formats. Then, we will formulate strategies for teaching communication across USF that grow out of our deep faculty collaboration.
Threshold Concepts for the Liminal Student
Facilitator: Billy Riggs
Threshold concepts are conceptual gateways that lead to previously inaccessible ways of thinking. Threshold concepts often are troublesome obstacles for students, but once grasped, they have a transformative and even irreversible impact. Members of this FLC will work together to identify threshold concepts in their fields, and to explore the pedagogical challenges and opportunities that accompany them. Our goal will be to develop new or redesigned course materials, supplemental teaching resources, and reflective narratives about our own pedagogical decisions.
Active Learning at USF
Facilitator: Susan Prion
The purpose of this Faculty Learning Community is to bring faculty and staff together to explore, share and articulate current best practices for effective active learning in our classrooms at USF. Research suggests that the incorporation of active learning encourages student engagement, reinforces concepts, provides an opportunity for students to process and create personal connections to material, and creates a sense of community. This FLC will review current literature, discuss pedagogical advantages and disadvantages of active learning, consider how to apply active learning instructional strategies across different types of learning spaces at USF, and culminate in the development of resources for the broader faculty community in their active learning endeavors. Sponsored by Vice Provost Shirley McGuire.
Mindfulness for Faculty Well Being
Facilitator: Kevin Lo
How can faculty engage in mindfulness practices for better health and well-being? How can faculty incorporate mindfulness into their teaching so that students' overall health and well-being are enhanced? This FLC will explore with other faculty how they might integrate mindfulness practices in their teaching through looking at mindfulness as 1. a practice in itself and 2. a pedagogical tool, and exploring methods for utilizing mindfulness in our classes.
Teaching Controversial Issues
Facilitators: Candice Harrison and Judy Pace
At USF our Jesuit mission sets the expectation that faculty teach students to examine significant moral, social, and political questions from diverse perspectives. Our politically turbulent climate makes this expectation even more urgent. This Faculty Learning Community will explore the challenges and opportunities embedded in teaching controversial issues, and a variety of strategies to navigate them. Led by two facilitators grounded in research and practice, the FLC will explore different approaches; contextual factors such as race, class, immigration status, gender/sexuality, and religion; and dilemmas such as conflicting rights. Participants will reflect on our own and our students’ positionalities in regard to power and identity as these shape our facilitation of classroom inquiry and discourse. And we will draw on our different areas of expertise to learn from one another about controversial issues and teaching informed by democratic values.
Sustainability Across the Curriculum
Facilitator: Gerard Kuperus
This FLC will explore ways to incorporate sustainability in courses taught across the university. We will examine literature and examples at other universities (such as the Piedmont Project at Emory, or the Ponderosa Project at Northern Arizona). Faculty can develop (or improve) a sustainability module to be included in the syllabus of one of their courses (for example by generating ideas for lectures, assignments, and texts that incorporate the theme of sustainability). In addition the FLC will also attempt to develop (interdisciplinary) strategies to implement sustainability throughout the university (e.g. through workshops and/or curriculum related materials) as well as to connect to sustainability projects on campus. Whatever their majors, our students need tools to think about solutions to environmental issues. The global crisis we are facing is depressing and we should certainly not sugarcoat things. Yet discussing sustainability can be an uplifting experience that will strengthen a course, and the education and job prospects of our students.
Accessible Pedagogy and Universal Design for Learning
Facilitator: Emily Nusbaum (Learning & Instruction)
The Accessible Pedagogy and UDL post [host location will need to be changed] shares information about the half-day workshop the group created in April of 2017. We will finish updating the post during summer 2017 to include more resources and links to recordings (and transcriptions) from the event and from the group's findings over the year.
Field Study Courses
Facilitator: Melinda Stone (Media Studies, Urban Agriculture)
A page dedicated to the group's findings will be created during the summer of 2017 and linked here.
Best Practices in Hybrid Learning Experiences
Facilitator: Susan Prion (Nursing and Health Professions)
A page dedicated to the group's findings will be created during the summer of 2017 and linked here.
Student Engagement in the Classroom: Best Practices
Facilitator: Marjolein Oele (Philosophy)
This group inspired the CTE theme Student Engagement for the 2016-2017 academic year, in which group members presented their work in two CTE events: a fall Teaching Cafe on Student Engagement and the January '17 Winter Intensive on Student Engagement. In spring of 2017, CTE invited Nick Zepke (Massey University, New Zealand) - the group consulted Zepke throughout the year - to give a workshop for faculty and a talk on student engagement and neoliberalism. The work of the group culminated in a published article in Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal.
Practical Strategies for Working with International Students
Facilitator: Melissa Dale (Center for Asia Pacific Studies)
This group created two top ten lists - one for students and one for faculty - with best suggestions for creating an inclusive and engaging campus experience for international students. The FLC held a video contest for students, asking them to bring the top ten list to life. You can see the video contest information page with links to the top ten lists here and you can check out the winning student video here.
The Innovation Lab: Teaching & Technology
Facilitator: Eugene Kim (Law)
The Innovation Lab members created a report on the status of teaching and technology for administrators of the university, supported by their findings in two focus groups and a faculty survey. The report identified faculty needs and provided suggestions for developing collaborations across university programs including faculty-led sessions on technology. As a result, the CTE now collaborates more with the Center for Instructional Technology, such as the Peer2Peer Series on Teaching and Technology, Drop-in Canvas Sessions, and participation in the Ed Tech Expo, including a student panel led by co-director Jonathan Hunt.
Teaching at Branch Campuses
Facilitator: June Clausen (Psychology)
Community Engaged Pedagogies
Facilitator: Kevin Lo (Organization, Leadership and Communication)
Teaching First Year Students & Information Literacy
Facilitator: Marilyn DeLaure (Communication Studies)
Facilitator: Susan Prion (Nursing and Health Professions)
Qualitative Research Methods
Facilitator: Genevieve Leung (Rhetoric and Language)
Facilitator: Kimberly Connor (Public and Nonprofit Administration)