What is a Carthage Learning Community?

A faculty learning community (FLC) is a group (8-12 is recommended size) of transdisciplinary faculty and professional staff engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum designed to enhance professional practices, with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, transdisciplinarity, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and community building.

The Teaching Commons has substituted “Carthage” for “Faculty,” with the expectation that the topic or cohort for each community will suggest who might participate.

Why join a Carthage Learning Community?

Research indicates that we are most likely to change our practices when we have the opportunity to engage over a period of time with a community of people we trust. Learning communities provide a structured, supportive environment in which we learn with, and from, colleagues interested in the same topics or issues. And learning communities are supported with a budget for materials, community-building activities, and other resources.

How will Carthage Learning Communities (CLCs) operate?

The Teaching Commons sponsors learning communities that are focused on a specific topic or issue (e.g.,
Equitable and Inclusive Classroom Practices), as well as those relevant for a specific cohort (e.g., Early
Career Faculty). Faculty or staff will express interest in joining a CLC by completing online registration. CLCs will meet together about every three weeks. Each meeting will consist of a seminar (learning opportunity arranged by the community members) and time dedicated to individual and group projects. Each CLC will have a facilitator, or co-facilitators to organize and lead meetings.

Entire CLC’s or individual members may apply for funding from the Teaching Commons to support eligible

What are the guidelines for a project?

CLCs promote the adoption of innovative and effective practices by individual members in their professional roles at Carthage. In addition, CLCs promote the dissemination of new knowledge and practices through the presentation of projects to the broader community.

The purpose and design for each project will depend on the focus of the CLC and the role of the participant. Many projects will involve the application of new knowledge to classroom practices in an organized way that includes evaluating impact (e.g. student learning), and which may be considered examples of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

Not all projects will involve SoTL, and many other options exist, including, course re-design, seminar or workshop development, portfolios, policy or program development, and other innovative applications proposed by members. Participants must propose a project when joining a CLC with the opportunity to refine their proposals once their community becomes active.

How are projects shared with the campus community?

Research supports the effectiveness of learning communities for promoting the widespread adoption of new and effective practices, primarily through the public presentation of projects. Members of CLCs will be expected to present the results of their projects on campus, in a format that will be most effective given the products of their work and the desired audience. Possible settings and formats for presentations include poster presentations at the Celebration of Scholars, seminars or workshops, sessions scheduled through the Teaching Commons, or other options proposed by members. The Teaching Commons will support CLC members in determining a presentation format.

Faculty who wish for their work to be recognized as scholarship by their departments should consult their departmental guidelines regarding expectations for public presentation of one’s work.

What a Sense of Vocation Means for Us and for Our Students

Achieving one’s vocation has been described as dedicating one’s talents, passions, and gifts to the needs of the broader community, or of the world. A cornerstone of the Lutheran tradition in higher education, vocation challenges us to consider the difference between a job, a career, and our vocation. Participants in this learning community may focus on understanding their own vocation, or on nurturing its development in students.

Working in a Liberal Arts College in the 21st Century

What role should the liberal arts play in preparing today’s college students for a productive and purposeful life? How can small colleges articulate to the public the importance of a liberal arts education? What, then, does it mean to work at a liberal arts college like Carthage in the 21st century? This learning community will examine the rise of the concept of liberal education, as defined by AAC&U, as something all institutions can and should practice and the various ways in which liberal arts colleges, once the primary purveyors of liberal education, are coping with the loss of the monopoly. Our individual projects will focus on the perspective from our various roles on campus, and will culminate in a symposium on the topic at the end of the spring semester.

Equitable and Inclusive Classroom Practices

Participants will broaden and deepen their understanding of how the way in which we design and facilitate our courses can facilitate or impede a student’s sense of belonging and opportunity to achieve to their full potential. Resources will include a growing literature on practices that eliminate barriers and foster an inclusive classroom climate.

Promoting Student Independence Through Active Learning

Active learning means students engage with the material, participate in the class, and collaborate with each other. Active learning shares characteristics with student-centered learning, with both practices designed to encourage students to engage in higher-level cognitive operations (e.g., analysis, synthesis, creativity, critical thinking) while assuming more responsibility for their own learning. Participants in this learning community will explore general and discipline-specific strategies and design new learning activities for their own course(s). Facilitating active learning via blended or hybrid learning will be addressed and support for use of new technologies will be available.

Composing an Academic Career

Professional careers, including those of faculty, unfold in predictable stages, each with its own set of opportunities and challenges. At some point in their careers, most faculty pause to reflect on their accomplishments, and to consider what type of professional identity they would find most satisfying in the next phase of their career. Participants in this learning community will explore the many factors that influence how we choose to compose our careers, and develop a vision for their next five years, and perhaps beyond.

Questions can be directed to teaching@carthage.edu.