Faculty Learning Communities

The CTE sponsors groups of faculty to meet during the semester to discuss various teaching issues and topics.

AY 2017-2018

Digital Pedagogy Workshops, Co-sponsored with the Center for Digital Liberal Arts—This set of “digital pedagogy workshops" is designed for faculty who are developing new courses or looking to revise existing courses that involve digitized materials, on-line research processes, or emerging technologies for classroom communication or publication. This fall, we will focus on three areas of interest:

  1. Digital Primary Sources for Undergraduate Research (images, archives, Scalar, Omeka, etc.)
  2. Data Management for Collaborative Research (managing quantitative and qualitative data sets, sharing data, making data “open," etc.)
  3. Language Learning Approaches (content-based instruction, emerging tools for language acquisition and proficiency, using audio-visual materials, etc.)

Department Chairs Working GroupThis group of department chairs will discuss recurring tasks and challenges related to the role of department chair. The group will provide support and guidance for new as well as continuing department chairs. While reading The Department Chair Primer by Don Chu, participants will devise Oxy specific strategies and guidance.

Structure and Process in Senior Capstone Courses Working GroupThis group will explore best practices for structuring senior capstone research experiences. We are especially interested in the structure of the semester-long (and sometimes year-long) projects/courses, with respect to scaffolding intermediary assignments and the work done in class meetings. We will focus on questions like: What kinds of (and frequency of) intermediary steps and assignments are most useful, and when in the process are they most useful? What weekly workload is appropriate for students? What kinds of support materials and resources do the students need throughout the semester, and how does this change depending on the kind of work they are doing? How do we most productively integrate faculty readers who are not teaching the “comps course"? How do we assess the process (as opposed to product) oriented work students do in seminars and what role does this work play in assessing the project overall? 

Sociology Senior Seminar Capstone Working GroupThis group will focus on developing one shared curriculum for all three sections of Sociology 490: Sociology seminar, which will be taught during the same class period, with the three classes coming together for some class sessions during which the three instructors will co-teach. Our goal is to develop materials that will allow Sociology faculty teaching Sociology 490 to co-teach going forward and that will provide students with greater guidance, thus, reducing their comps-related stress and anxiety. It will also allow the FLC participants to learn from each other, thereby enriching pedagogy and expanding their teaching repertoire.

Integrating Mindfulness in the Everyday Classroom Reading GroupThis group will explore best practices in contemplative pedagogy for incorporating mindfulness activities into the everyday classroom, and will develop resources for these practices that can be shared with the Occidental community. Growing over the last decade, mindfulness and contemplative pedagogy become quite prominent in K-12 education and in higher education. The use of mindfulness and other somatic practices are not limited to one discipline, and in fact, present a unique opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration drawing on expertise from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. 

First Year Faculty Learning Community (FYFLC), Co-sponsored with the Dean's office—Each year, the newly hired tenure-track faculty meet together throughout their first year in the First Year Faculty Learning Coummunity. Our meetings aim to orient new faculty to Oxy students and teaching at Oxy, to familiarize them with campus offices and services, to introduce them to faculty outside their departments (including the prior year's new faculty, recently tenured faculty, the Faculty Council, and Advisory Council), to talk about how to establish themselves as teacher-scholars, and, in general, to help them transition into our community.

Designing a New or Newly Reimagined Course WorkshopThe group met over the course of two days to develop their syllabi, assignment prompts, and other course materials. By the end of the workshop, participants had created a new or newly reimagined syllabus for their course.

 

AY 2016-2017

* Implementing Equity at OccidentalA follow-up to last year’s “Equity at Occidental" Faculty Working Group, in which the group created a syllabus of readings on academic discourse around “diversity" and also broader contexts that shape our understandings of—and our experiences in—higher education.  This semester, the group planned various methods by which to implement the syllabus in order to create opportunities for substantial, in-depth conversations that could ground the institution's work moving forward in scholarship, research, and theoretical materials.

Balancing Teaching and Research Faculty Working GroupBased on the success of this group last year, we decided to offer it again this time to two new groups of faculty!  With an awareness of the institution obstacles that drive women and black scholars to publish less than men and white scholars (Long and Fox 1995; Toutkoushian 1998), the faculty in this working group studied a handful of models and best practices for increasing research productivity.  They also blocked out time to work together on their scholarship in order to complete a research goal by the end of the semester.

* Linear Algebra Faculty Working GroupMembers of the Math Department used this Faculty Working Group to track and enhance their teaching of Linear Algebra, a requirement for the Math major and a subject that students must demonstrate proficiency in through their Junior Comprehensive Exam.  Moreover, the faculty in this group aimed to more deliberately and overtly incorporate Linear Algebra throughout the Math curriculum.  At their meetings, Math faculty discussed how they might draw on Linear Algebra concepts in more advanced courses, shared materials, and provided feedback on their current practice.

* Early Career Faculty Roundtable—A group of early career faculty visited—in round-robin fashion—each other’s classes and then met to debrief their class visits and to talk about effective pedagogy.

Mid-career women Faculty Reading GroupMembers of this Faculty Reading group discussed the issues facing mid-career women faculty, as they read a central reading, Every Other Thursday: Stories and Strategies for Successful Women Scientists (Yale University Press).

* Restorative Theory in Practice Faculty Reading Group— As faculty members and administrators, we encounter conflict and divisiveness in the classroom, in committees, and in everyday incidents with students, faculty, and staff colleagues. In these situations, we feel unsure regarding how to best handle tension, conflict, and confrontation. This group read three books to help identify approaches and tools to better equip us for handling college-wide trauma, as well as smaller scale, everyday incidents.

Donna Hicks, Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict
Belinda Hopkins, Restorative Theory in Practice: Insights into What Works and Why
David R. Karp, The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Colleges and Universities

The first book laid the foundation of various kinds of dignity violations, why they cause such distress, and what we can do to preserve our own dignity and the dignity of others (even in moments of trauma and distress). Hopkins’ edited volume offered a more theoretically sophisticated book. Karp’s book offered more pragmatic advice about how to structure a restorative reconciliation.

* Intergroup Dialogues Working GroupThis Working Group space offered a space wherein participants could meet and develop a new approach to dialogue that is more directly related to liberated classroom spaces and a college community and experience that is humanizing; particularly for those students who come from communities that have been marginalized for centuries.

* Kinesiology Intro Working GroupThis Kinesiology working group focused on (1) establishing core areas of kinesiology which should be covered in an introductory class, (2) exploring integrating public health as a theme into the course (3) revising the K104 course to meet these agreed upon areas, (4) exploring community based learning experiences for the course (5) developing a course syllabus (6) developing auxiliary materials (PPT, tests, assignments, etc.).

* Black Studies RetreatCo-sponsored with the President’s Office and the Dean of the College’s OfficeThis retreat was designed to move from a broader conversation about the current state of the field of Black Studies to a series of activities that allowed faculty to share pedagogical strategies for teaching Black Studies and to reflect on how we might best incorporate Black Studies into the Oxy curriculum. Ultimately, this meeting serves as the foundation for the creation of a Black Studies major and minor program. * Geology 105 Labs Working GroupThis Geology Department group worked to revitalize teaching of labs for Introductory Geology (GEO105). Geology 105 is typically team-taught, with the class taught by one professor and the labs taught by one or two other professors. Like all team-teaching, this arrangement requires careful coordination of class and lab materials, and at its best, involves a strong collaboration between faculty. They replaced outdated exercises with labs that more fully engage all students with the material and each other. 

 

AY 2015-2016

* Equity at Occidental, co-sponsored by the Dean's officeHarnessing the interest of faculty, administrators, and staff to become better educated about equity and diversity at institutions of higher ed, and responding directly to the student movement in the Fall semester, faculty in this working group created a syllabus the community could consult to prompt discussion and identify solutions.  The syllabus includes a reading list, broken down by topic.  The faculty participants were careful to include short, easy to digest pieces, as well as longer, more nuanced scholarship to accommodate varied uses of the syllabus.  Faculty in the group hope the syllabus will create opportunities for substantial, in-depth conversations that could ground the institution's work moving forward in scholarship, research, and theoretical materials.

* Diversity in the STEM classroom Faculty Working Group—Following a call from Oxy students in the sciences, faculty participants in this working group (from the sciences and social sciences) critically evaluated how to create a more equitable learning environment in STEM classrooms and labs.  Faculty participants became familiar with the scholarship on topics—ranging from diversifying course materials, addressing race and racism in scientific work and in the science professions, and attracting and retaining underrepresented students in the science fields by creating welcoming and supportive learning environments—in addition to collaborating to revise their course materials, and forming a community of faculty committed to improving equity among the STEM disciplines at Oxy.

* Teaching in, through, and with social movements Faculty Working GroupThe student movement on campus in the Fall semester—wherein students created a revolutionary learning environment and curriculum in their teach-ins—energized and inspired many faculty to rethink what and how they teach.  The faculty participants in this group spend the semester reworking a course they are teaching next academic year with the aim of activating their classrooms as socially-just spaces.

* Balancing Teaching and Research Faculty Working Group—With an awareness of the institution obstacles that drive women and black scholars to publish less than men and white scholars (Long and Fox 1995; Toutkoushian 1998), the faculty in this working group studied a handful of models and best practices for increasing research productivity.  They will also blocked out time to work together on their scholarship in order to complete a research goal by the end of the semester.

* Designing Student Polling Questions Faculty Workshop, co-sponsored with the Center for Digital Liberal ArtsIn this all-day workshop, faculty reviewed the manifold objectives of using student polls in the classroom and the types of questions linked to each.  Then they set out to design polling questions for one of their courses, in consultation with each other and with CDLA staff.

Digital Pedagogy Workshopsco-sponsored with the Center for Digital Liberal Arts—In this series of summer workshops, faculty design digital pedagogical accompaniments (such as blogging, tweeting, audio/video recording and editing, podcasts, multimedia assignments, Global Crossroads, etc.) for one of their courses.  Participants had the opportunity to talk through their ideas with colleagues and to workshop their assignment design/prompts; were provided with resources to support these projects (such as grading rubrics and assignment prompts used by colleagues); and were provided with information on staff and services to support their work (such as Scholarship Technology workshops or CDLA support staff/programs).

First Year Faculty Learning Community (FYFLC)co-sponsored with the Dean's office—Each year, the newly hired tenure-track faculty meet together throughout their first year in the First Year Faculty Learning community.  Our meetings aim to orient new faculty to Oxy students and teaching at Oxy, to familiarize them with campus offices and services, to introduce them to faculty outside their departments (including the prior year’s new faculty, recently tenured faculty, the Faculty Council, and Advisory Council), to talk about how to establish themselves as teacher-scholars, and, in general, to help them transition into our community.

* Diversifying Your Syllabus Faculty Workshop—In this all-day workshop, faculty spent the day identifying ways to diversify their courses to include a wider range of materials from women scholars, scholars of color, and LGBTIQ scholars.  The day began with a discussion of pedagogical scholarship on diversifying syllabi and with a look at data on underrepresented scholars in participants’ respective fields.  Then, participants were given time to conduct bibliographic searches and to consult resources specific to their disciplines (such as collections of syllabi on professional organization sites) in order to identify materials they might integrate into their course.

* California Immigration Semester Faculty Working Group—The faculty members in this working group—drawing from the Spanish, Sociology, and Critical Theory and Social Justice departments—are teaching the 4-course “California Immigration Semester" open to students in the first-year class.  In this working group, they will work together to develop their individual and team-taught courses, to coordinate course material with cultural events they will attend, to design digital stories and digital mapping/data/narratives project, and to develop their work with community partners.

* Active Learning in BIO 103 Faculty Working Group—Members of the Biology Department used this Faculty Working Group to develop active learning exercises for BIO 103, “Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology," a course required of students majoring in Biology, Biochemistry, Kinesiology, and all pre-med students.

Python Faculty Learning Communityco-sponsored with the Center for Digital Liberal Arts—Over the summer, faculty from Cognitive Science, Sociology, Physics, Biology, and History worked with staff from the Center for Digital Liberal Arts to learn Python, an open-source computer programming language that allows for fast and efficient analysis of big data.  After mastering the technical side of the language, in the Fall semester, the faculty turned their focus to incorporating Python in their classes and in student research. They will develop course-specific material for teaching Python and/or for using Python as a learning tool in the classroom and for student research.  Finally, they will discuss broader curricular goals as they relate to department and institution-wide needs.

Quantitative Reasoning in CSP Faculty Working Group—The faculty in this working group—drawn from the Physics, Cognitive Science, Geology, math, Economics, biology, Chemistry, and Psychology departments—used this working group to study the feasibility of using of the CSP seminars to build students’ quantitative reasoning skills.  They will discuss the parameters of such a course, the kinds of courses that could be offered, similar core requirements or offerings at peer institutions, and how the course could address WASC competency standards.

Designing Meaningful Course Excursions/Community Engagementco-sponsored with the Center for Community Based Learning—in a Faculty Learning Community and a series of lunch-time discussions, faculty will discuss issues such as the following: 1) linking work in the city/field to learning outcomes; 2) how to prepare students in advance, in terms of both course material and priming students to be respective and sensitive; 3) assignments that complement fieldwork; and 4) debriefing engagement with city/field/community.

High-Impact Practices in Philosophy, Cognitive Science, and Linguistics Faculty Learning Community—In the second iteration of this working group, faculty from Cognitive Science, Linguistics, and Philosophy met with staff from the offices that support High-Impact Practices at Occidental, including the International Programs, Undergraduate Research, National Awards and Fellowships, Center for Digital Learning and Research, Center for Community Based Learning and Research, and the Career Center. Their aim was to discern how best to partner with these offices to develop or enhance opportunities for their students.

* GIS Faculty Learning Communityco-sponsored with the Center for Digital Liberal ArtsScience faculty who wanted to integrate GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and mapping technologies in their courses—especially early in the science curriculum—formed this Faculty Learning Community with the following goals: 1) to assess what skills students need to learn in order to be competent GIS users; 2) to determine how these skills relate to the existing geology and biology curricula; and 3) to develop and redesign test labs for biology and geology courses. The need for this FLC arose from a previous FLC on the use of tablet computers in field courses.

 

AY 2014-2015

*  Digital Pedagogy Workshops, co-sponsored with the Center for Digital Liberal ArtsIn this series of summer workshops, faculty designed digital pedagogical accompaniments (such as blogging, tweeting, audio/video recording and editing, podcasts, multimedia assignments, Global Crossroads, etc.) for one of their Fall courses.  Participants had the opportunity to talk through their ideas with colleagues and to workshop their assignment design/prompts; were provided with resources to support these projects (such as grading rubrics and assignment prompts used by colleagues); and were provided with information on staff and services to support their work (such as Scholarship Technology workshops or CDLA support staff/programs).

*  First Year Faculty Learning Community (FYFLC), co-sponsored with the Dean's officeEach year, the newly hired tenure-track faculty meet together throughout their first year in the First Year Faculty Learning community.  Our meetings aim to orient new faculty to Oxy students and teaching at Oxy, to familiarize them with campus offices and services, to introduce them to faculty outside their departments (including the prior year’s new faculty, recently tenured faculty, the Faculty Council, and Advisory Council), to talk about how to establish themselves as teacher-scholars, and, in general, to help them transition into our community.

* Teaching Critical Reading Faculty Learning Community—In this Faculty Learning Community, faculty discussed our own (and our discipline’s) reading objectives, conventions, and practices and we worked together to devise strategies and assignments to train our students to read critically according to these standards.

* Foreign Languages Working Group—Language faculty met on several occasions during the semester to talk about topics that uniquely affect language instructors, including the use of technology and media in language instruction; assessment and feedback; and best practices and effective teaching techniques.

Workshop on Dealing with Challenging Classroom Situations—In this all-day workshop faculty spent time addressing a range of difficult classroom situations, such as teaching/discussing sensitive topics that can evoke emotional responses or that can elicit inappropriate remarks; dealing with troubling student behavior directed either at the faculty member or other students (e.g., disrespect, challenging authority, outbursts, or micro-aggressions); and faculty members’ emotional and pedagogical responses.  We discussed our experiences with these situations, scholarship on these situations, and best practices on how to best deal with these situations in the classroom.

Clickers in the Classroom Faculty Learning Community—In this Faculty Learning Community, faculty who currently use “clickers" (aka audience response systems, such as i>clicker, Socrative, or Poll Everywhere) or faculty who want to learn more about using clickers shared ideas with colleagues on how to use clickers in the classroom and/or to assess student learning; talked through the benefits and drawbacks of different systems, with the possibility of a permanent set-up of systems in one or two classrooms; and learned about the integration of clickers with PowerPoint and Moodle.

Transformative Narratives Faculty Learning Community—The purpose of this working group was to explore the intersection of our students' burgeoning identity development, trauma resolution and healing, social location, voice and community as they unfold and find expression in the creative work they conduct in our classrooms (visual, narrative, print, and digital). The aim was to identify specific means by which such psychological and artistic sensibilities might be more deliberately incorporated into the pedagogy of our various disciplines. 

High-Impact Practices in Philosophy, Cognitive Science, and Linguistics Faculty Learning Community—In this working group, faculty read and discussed recent scholarship on High-Impact Practices and on best practices on incorporating such activities into their curricula with the aim of identifying promising areas for innovation within, and importantly across, our respective departments (Cognitive Science, Linguistics, Philosophy), and witht he aim of developing or enhancing such opportunities.

* Microscopy Working Group—The faculty who use microscopy and imaging technologies in introductory and advanced classes convened a working group with the following objectives: to evaluate current student and faculty microscope resources available on campus for research and teaching; to share how we are using microscopy and imaging technologies in our current curriculum (lab protocols, learning objectives, available reagents & expertise); to develop a plan & budget for software upgrades and service contracts for major equipment (e.g. confocal microscope facility), and ongoing student and faculty training; and, finally, to brainstorm ideas for future FLC proposal centering on new imaging technologies, creating a shared website resource for classes, and development of new curriculum.

* Biology Comps Working Group—Biology Faculty met to evaluate the current Senior Comprehensives structure in the Biology department relative to department curricular goals and senior comps formats of other Occidental departments and to develop a standardized Biology Senior Comps format, evaluation rubric, faculty teaching and participation policy and assessment format.

Pedagogical challenges of teaching material that includes/addresses sexual violence Given the highly sensitive nature of discussing sexual assault and/or rape when it comes up in our course material, this faculty working group met several times to discuss pedagogical scholarship, to share views on pedagogical strategies related to facilitating discussions, trigger warnings, alternative assignments, and assessment, and to devise effective and meaningful strategies for teaching sensitive material like this. 

 

AY 2013-2014

*  First Year Faculty Learning Community (FYFLC), co-sponsored with the Dean's officeEach year, the newly hired tenure-track faculty meet together throughout their first year in the First Year Faculty Learning community.  Our meetings aim to orient new faculty to Oxy students and teaching at Oxy, to familiarize them with campus offices and services, to introduce them to faculty outside their departments (including the prior year’s new faculty, recently tenured faculty, the Faculty Council, and Advisory Council), to talk about how to establish themselves as teacher-scholars, and, in general, to help them transition into our community.

Comps/Senior Seminar Faculty Learning Community (Comps FLC), co-sponsored with the Dean's Office and Institutional ResearchIn this FLC, faculty from the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences discussed: 1) the history and purposes of the “capstone" in the US context; 2) issues, burdens, and obstacles in our current practice; 3) strategies and institutional reform that might address current problems; and 4) shared materials, teaching tips, and best practices to enable us to support our students without overextending ourselves.

Leveraging Open Data for Student Learning (Open Data FLC), co-sponsored with Scholarship TechnologyIn this FLC, faculty reflected on how we gather, share, and publicize data together. Specifically, participants: 1) engaged in hands on workshops with open data repositories, data exploration tools, and data visualization tools in order to identify open data resources that are appropriate to their courses and learning objectives; 2) considered how to make use of open data in academic and public contexts; and 3) examined the economic, political, and educational implications of open data on knowledge production within and beyond the academy

Biology Faculty Working Group—100-level BIO syllabiFaculty in this working group met to refine and coordinate the 100-level courses in Biology and to review the syllabi of faculty teaching these courses in AY 2013-2014.  They developed a table of their department’s learning outcomes lined to assignments in their 200-level classes to ensure consistency across the curriculum (even for students who take different courses or different professors).  Furthermore, they created space on Google Drive (accessible to all of the faculty members in the department) in which they could share materials (e.g., handouts, classroom activities, lab instructions, clicker questions, grading matrices, etc.).  Finally, they developed a common mode by which to assess student learning under this revised curriculum.  They took up this assessment at the end of this academic year, but in the meantime they have devoted one department meeting a month to talk about pedagogy and curriculum.

Greek Tragedy Working Group—The faculty in this group (from Theater, English, and Classics) linked their courses by taking turns teaching each other's classes and taking all of their students on a joint field trip to a performance at the Getty Villa.

Presumed Incompetent Reading Group—The faculty in this group read the book, Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia, and discussed how the issues raised in the book about the experiences of faculty of color in academia related to their own experiences.

Digital Pedagogy Working Group, co-sponsored with Scholarship Technology and the Center for Digital Learning + ReserachThe faculty in these groups designed or redesigned an assignment that used some form of technology (the projects ranged from podcasts to web design). The group also devised a set of guidelines (now available to all Oxy faculty on the CTE webiste) with tips and tricks for assigning group projects.

* Women in Science Working Group—A faculty member spent the semester conducting research on curricular and co-curricular programs that support the retention of women, including women of color, in undergraduate science majors.  Her work led to the proposal of a pilot program: a voluntary component of the first-year science curriculum that would give young women the foundational professional strategies to navigate the intellectual and social world of academics (esp. in the STEM fields).

Classical Revivals Reading Group—The faculty in this group (from History and Classics) met throughout the semester to discuss areas of overlap between their courses (on Classical literature and on the revival of the Classics in the Renaissance).

Experiences of Faculty of Color Working Group, co-sponsored with Dean's Office, Scholarship Technology, and Center for Digital Learning + ResearchThis faculty working group (a continuation of a faculty group that read Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia) spent the semester collecting qualitative and quantitative data on the experiences of faculty of color, pulling together what they've learned in the form of a documentary, and making recommendations to improve the campus climate for faculty of color.

Using Tablets in Environmental Studies Fieldwork—The faculty in this working group (from Biology and Geology) designed projects and/or assignments that utilize the iPad in the field (made available to colleagues in their departments).  They will also devise a guide and best practices for the use of the iPad in fieldwork.

Diversity in Higher Education Reading Group—This faculty in this group read higher ed. scholarship on the value of diversity in higher education and they held a community meeting, open to faculty, staff, and students, to report on their findings and to facilitate a discussion. 

Latin American Politics Working Group—The faculty in this group (from Sociology and Politics) linked their courses, sharing several lectures and readings. 

Diplomacy & Ambassadors in Early Modern Europe Working Group—The faculty in this group (from History and Diplomacy & World Affairs) will meet at the beginning of the semester to workshop their Spring semester syllabi and throughout the semester to discuss areas of overlap between their courses.  They will also give guest lectures in each other's classes.

 

AY 2012-2013

*  Teaching with the iPad Faculty Learning Community  (iPad FLC), co-sponsored with the CDLRFour cohorts of faculty have participated in this innovated FLC, which introduces faculty to ways in which the iPad can be used to teach more effectively and efficiently.  Some faculty find subject-specific apps that they can use in the lab or classroom (e.g., anatomy or lighting design apps), other faculty use apps to provide more effective feedback on student papers, still others are considering how students can take field study notes on the iPad, and still others are using the iPad to enhance their workflow.  Several pilot programs--in the Biology, Kinesiology, and Theater departments--have been generated from the FLCs.

*  Teaching Writing in the Cultural Studies Program Faculty Learning Community  (CSP FLC), co-sponsored with the Core programThe CTE has collaborated with the Core program to offer this FLC for several years.  Faculty in this Learning Community discuss strategies for teaching critical thinking and writing, writing assignment design and prompts, and feedback and evaluation of student papers as the faculty members teach first-year seminar courses.

*  Publishing Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Faculty Learning Community (SoTL FLC)—This is a new Learning Community that supports faculty publications in the field of Teaching and Learning.  Faculty meet to workshop drafts of their essays and support one another through the publication process.

*  First Year Faculty Learning Community (FYFLC), co-sponsored with the Dean's officeEach year, the newly hired tenure-track faculty meet together throughout their first year in the First Year Faculty Learning community.  Our meetings aim to orient new faculty to Oxy students and teaching at Oxy, to familiarize them with campus offices and services, to introduce them to faculty outside their departments (including the prior year’s new faculty, recently tenured faculty, the Faculty Council, and Advisory Council), to talk about how to establish themselves as teacher-scholars, and, in general, to help them transition into our community.

*  Faculty-led study abroad programs Faculty Learning Community (FLSAP FLC), co-sponsored with the International Programs Office—As part of the college’s concern to instill in students global literacy, the college has made a commitment to offer more faculty lead short-term study abroad trips linked to semester courses.  In Spring 2013, the CTE co-sponsored with the International Programs Office a FLC on designing pedagogically effective programs that integrate a faculty-taught on-campus course with a faculty-led short-term field study abroad.

*  Mentoring Undergraduate Research Faculty Learning Community (UR FLC), co-sponsored with the Undergraduate Research Center—The extensive integration of undergraduate research in the Oxy curriculum is a distinctive feature of Occidental College: students learn how to conduct undergraduate research in the second-semester CSP course, many students are funded to conduct summer research through the URC or through the Keck program, and many majors culminate with a senior comprehensive paper.  In spring 2013, the CTE convened a Faculty Learning Community to discuss how best to mentor and advise undergraduate research at all of these levels.

Visualization and Visual Materials Faculty Learning Community, co-sponsored with the Center for Digital Learning + Research—This FLC, affectionately dubbed the “Practices of Looking" group, brought together scholars from a range of disciplines to talk about the merits of teaching with visual materials and of asking students to produce arguments in a visual vernacular.  Participants also shared example assignments, discussed the issues they faced when they (or their students) used images as evidence or to communicate ideas through images and visualizations, and, in turn, developed a thoughtful appreciation for the different contexts in which visual materials are used in Oxy classes and in scholarly work in general.

Teaching about Immigration in Los Angeles Faculty Roundtable—This group of faculty taught linked courses on immigration as it relates to the education of, literary traditions and histories of, and sociological analyses of immigrant communities.  The faculty roundtable enabled the faculty members to coordinate their courses (and field trips) and to learn from each other’s pedagogical approaches and strengths.

Teaching the Holocaust Faculty Roundtable—The faculty participating in this roundtable both taught courses on the Holocaust: Representing the Holocaust in Literature and Film (ECLS & GERM) and The Holocaust: History, Testimony, and Memory (HIST).  The faculty in these courses met several times to exchange syllabi and discuss their semester plans, to discuss potential paper topics, to discuss examinations, and to coordinate a joint trip to the Museum of Tolerance.

Research Methods and Quantitative/Statistical Literacy Faculty Working Group—The group of faculty involved in this working group visited each other’s research methods classes, talked about challenges they face when teaching these sorts of courses, and strategized ways to coordinate efforts across departments.  The group invited Carey Sargent, the Head of Instruction and Research, and Hanna Spinosa, the Asst. Dean of Institutional to join them for some discussions and to participate in some of their classes.  After the working group concluded, the group hosted a campus-wide meeting to talk about methods and quantitative courses and they have formed a cluster of faculty (inviting others not involved in the original working group) to continue these conversation.

Teaching the Introductory and Intermediate Cell/Molecular Biology Sequence Faculty Working Group—The participants in this working group talked about the sequencing of the introductory and intermediate cell and molecular Biology courses.  They identified the material that needed to be covered for students to do well on standardized tests (pre-health professions, pre-graduate school, or teaching certification); they discussed how to stage that material throughout the major curriculum (across courses); and they strategized how to incorporate newly discovered material.  This working group has also expanded to include new members and continues to meet to discuss these curricular issues.

Teaching Field Courses Faculty Working Group—This faculty working group worked on “best practices" for teaching science courses that involve field study components.  Participants met regularly during the semester to identify programmatic objectives for field trips, to discuss pre-field trip activities to best prepare students for the experience, as well as follow-up activities that most effectively consolidated the learning that occurred during the trip, and to draft a “Manual for Effective Planning and Teaching Field Trips at Occidental" that laid out the logistical steps of planning and executing a field trip (e.g., transportation, medical releases, equipment [such as, water, food, and emergency supplies], risk management, communication, etc.).

 

Here’s what faculty have to say about Faculty Learning Communities:

“FLCs are great!  It is so useful to interact with other faculty, to have discussions and share ideas about teaching and pedagogy!"

"As with all of the CTE programs, it was great to share teaching strategies and materials."

“The hands-on practice provided by this FLC was invaluable given that I would not have devoted time to this project on my own nor been able to do so without guidance from the facilitator or peers."

"Wow. Where do I start?  Having a platform wherein we can share our practices and help each other become better teachers and mentors was phenomenal!"

“The best things about the FLC were: 1) The clear organization and scaffolding of meetings that enabled us to get a lot of work done; and 2) Having a thoughtful and supportive collective of colleagues to give feedback on every stage of our work."

“I feel extremely grateful to have been part of this group.  It was a wonderful experience. I hope that I get to participate in more FLCs with a similar sense of camaraderie and that are equally productive and pleased with the process."

“I found the collaborative, task-oriented aspects of this particular group especially effective.  This group worked especially well because we designed our meetings to achieve specific goals related to our teaching.  Moreover, this group was supportive and motivating.  It was great to be able to share very candidly our vulnerabilities with respect to pedagogy."

“The chance to share experiences with others teaching a writing seminar was most helpful.  Hearing about others’ challenges and about their students’ work placed my own work (and challenges) in context.  Moreover it was extremely helpful to share strategies and materials."

“I prized the horizontal organization and equity of our group. Like a pot-luck, everyone brought something to the party, spoke and listened."

“What I valued most was meeting regularly with four colleagues whom I respect and in whom I could always find intellectual, pedagogic, and emotional support."

“I found the integration of faculty from many different departments remarkably helpful.  Not only were the outside views and criticisms welcome, but they provided a different point of view that I don’t typically receive."