Faculty Learning Communities

Faculty Learning Communities

Learning Communities

Learning Communities are diverse, interdisciplinary groups of participants who come together to enhance their instructional approaches, investigate instructional change, and share their experience in employing research-based strategies in their teaching. CEE offers three faculty learning communities: Engaged Learning and Teaching, First-Generation (new), and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Each community participates in an exploration of topics central to pedagogy in higher education with the aim of developing a deeper understanding of their own teaching practice, while engaging in activity that provides a foundation for becoming educational innovators. Participants receive a $1000 to put toward instructional enhancement activities (e.g., conference travel, software, other teaching materials). Participants also receive a certificate of completion.

Applications will open November 1, 2019


A letter of support is also required with every application. A template for the Chair's Letter of Support can be found here: Chair’s Letter of Support Template

What are Learning Communities?

Learning communities are designed to bring together instructors from a number of disciplines to explore topics and themes around learning and teaching. The community provides a supportive environment where members can engage in a variety of activities and experiment with new approaches to teaching, share successes and challenges, and engage in the introductory research projects, and dissemination of instructional practices and tools. 

As the learning community progresses, members will support each other in the completion of individual projects relating to the theme of the community and their own teaching interests. 

Why should I apply?

You will become a member of a community of peers with shared interests in learning, teaching, and scholarship at UC Davis.  The community is an inclusive space where members exchange experiences, ideas and strategies about teaching; experiment with research-based practices; build skills; and reflect on their roles as educators. You will also interact with colleagues with shared interests and specific pedagogical issues and questions. See What topics will be covered (below).

In addition, members of the communities will be given support and opportunities to collaborate with CEE staff on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) projects of institutional significance (e.g., time-to-degree and retention).

Who is eligible?

Any full-time member of the Academic Senate at UC Davis may apply to participate in a Learning Community. Pre-tenure faculty may apply, with priority given to pre-tenure faculty hired since July 1, 2016. Members who have previously participated in a Learning Community may reapply, but preference will be given to first-time applicants. 

NOTE: The First-Generation Faculty Learning Community is open to any full-time member of the Academic Senate at UC Davis who is a first-generation college graduate. 

  • 2019 Cohort
  • Engage Learning and Teaching Community First Generation Faculty Learning Community Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Community 
    Julia Chamberlain, Chemistry Louise Berben, Chemistry Joseph Anistranski, Human Ecology
    Po-Yen Chou, Veterinary Surgical and Radiological Science Elizabeth Montano, School of Education Silvia Carrasco Garcia, Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Maureen Kinyua, Civil and Environmental Engineering Sascha Nicklisch, Department of Environmental Toxicology  Amanda Crump, Plant Sciences
    Alexander Nord, 

    Center for Neuroscience 

    Lisa Pruitt, School of Law Debbie Fetter, Nutrition
    Luxin Wang, Food Science and Technology Eduardo Silva, Biomedical Engineering Jason White, Chemical Engineering   
  • 2018 Cohort
  • Engage Learning and Teaching Community Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Community 
    Geoffrey Attardo, Entomology & Nematology Julia Chamberlain, Chemistry
    Clare Cannon, Human Ecology Victoria Cross, Psychology
    Gerardo Con Diaz, Science and Technology Studies Susan Gentry, Materials Science and Engineering
    Heather Hether, Communication Amy McLean, Animal Science
      Mona Monfared, Molecular and Cellular Biology
      Jennifer Mullin, Biological and Agricultural Engineering
      Hooman Rashtian, Electrical and Computer Engineering
      Mark Verbitsky, Political Science
  • 2017 Cohort
  • Engage Learning and Teaching Community Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Community
    Juliana Leite Nobrega de Moura Bell, Food Science and Technology Colleen Bronner, Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Gerardo Mackenzie, Department of Nutrition Victoria Cross, Department of Psychology
    Thomas Maiorana, Department of Design Marina Crowder, Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Steven Sadro, Environmental Science and Policy Heather J. Hether, Department of Communication
    Claudia Sanchez-Gutierrez, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Bwalya Lungu, Food Science and Technology
    Alexandra Sofroniew, Art History Jeanette Ruiz, Department of Communication
    Ameer Taha, Food Science and Technology  
    Rachel Vannette, Department of Entomology & Nematology  
    Mark Verbitsky, Political Science  
    Katerina Ziotopoulou, Civil and Environmental Engineering  
  • 2016 Cohort
  • Engaged Learning and Teaching Community Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Community
    Catherine Brinkley, Human Ecology Natalia Caporale, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
    Marcela Cuellar, Education Julia Chamberlain, Chemistry
    Mark Huising, Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior Jennifer Choi, Biomedical Engineering
    Kristin Kiesel, Agricultural and Resource Economics Marina Crowder, Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Helen Koo, Design Ozcan Gulacar, Chemistry
    Bret McNabb, Population Health and Reproduction Miriam Martin, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
    Linn Normand, Student Academic Success Center Mona Monfared, Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Cindy Shen, Communication Derek Stimel, Economics
    Eduardo Silva, Biomedical Engineering Talitha van der Meulen, Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior
    Chris Smith, Sociology  
    Stefan Hoesel-Uhlig, Comparative Literature  


  • What are the responsibilities of Learning Community members?
  • Learning Community members are required to:

     ♦ Actively prepare for, attend, and participate in all meetings (Learning Communities will likely meet bi-weekly; the schedule will be set during the first meeting).
    ♦ Conduct a SOTL, teaching, or learning research project or pilot from ideation through preliminary analysis (specific to the SOTL community).
    ♦ Share their work with a larger audience (either at UC Davis or at an external venue) by selecting one or more of the following options (likely during Fall terms):
                   • Present on their experience or classroom innovation (e.g., at a teaching event, First-Get forum, or symposium);
                   • Provide instructional resource materials (e.g., an instructional tool or teaching strategy) on a topic of significance for the larger teaching community at UC Davis;
                   • Publish their findings (e.g., in a teaching portfolio or as a white paper).
    ♦ Submit a reflective analysis of their participation in the Learning Community by June 30, 2019.
    ♦ Complete a short survey providing feedback about their experience in the Learning Community at the end of their participation in the Community.

  • Descriptions of the 2019 Learning Communities
  • Learning Communities are designed with the unique needs and challenges of the faculty groups they serve in mind. A description of each community is below:

    ♦ The Engaged Learning and Teaching Community provides support for tenure-stream faculty members who seek to build and enhance their instructional abilities and teaching skills; share instructional successes and challenges; and establish a foundation for research-based teaching. Topics focus on shared issues and the resources that support participants’ instructional efforts. Principally, this community explores “how learning works” with a focus on active learning, assessing student learning, student motivation, and integration of inclusive practices. This Learning Community consists of up to 8 members.

    ♦ The First-Generation Learning Community (FGLC) is seeks to foster connection and community among first-gen faculty. The second goal is to provide a setting where first generation faculty can engage in dialogue on important issues related to building a community of educators committed to the success of first-generation students at UC Davis. The First-Generation Faculty Learning Community builds on the First Gen Initiative at UC Davis and in the UC System.

    ♦ The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Community is designed to support Lecturers with Potential Security of Employment (Teaching Professors), individuals hired because of their expertise in pedagogy and commitment to undergraduate education. This learning community is project-based; members support one another through the design, launch, and preliminary analysis of a teaching research pilot or project, and members are encouraged to publish or share this project at the annual SOTL conference and beyond. Participants support one another as research colleagues, offering resources, helpful critique, and accountability support, as well as connections to campus resources to support their efforts. This Learning Community consists of up to 8 members.

  • Important Dates for Learning Communities
  • ♦ November 5th, 2018: Call for applications
    ♦ January 2nd, 2019: Applications due 
    ♦ January 15th, 2019: Notifications to successful applicants 
    ♦ Week of January 24th, 2019: Award letters to participants 
    ♦ Week of January 28th, 2019: Kickoff Meetings 
    ♦ June 30th, 2019: Final Learning Community Project report due
    ♦ Fall 2019: Present findings, practices and results at a learning and teaching research event (e.g., teaching forum or showcase)
  • What is the time commitment?
  • On average, members may spend five to ten hours per month on Learning Community activities (e.g., participating in discussions, reading), including the Learning Community meeting(s). The number of hours spent on Learning Community activities will vary for individual participants and by learning community.
  • What is the format of Learning Community meetings?
  • Each Learning Community will meet for 8-10 sessions (approximately 1-2 times a month). CEE staff will help facilitate meetings. Below is a general description of the meeting format and activities:

     Meetings are held bi-weekly for 60-75 minutes. Meetings are arranged based on participants’ schedules. Each community will determine the time/location of the monthly sessions during the “Welcome” meeting. Refreshments are provided during meetings. Meeting activities: Meetings feature activities designed to promote participants' active engagement in pedagogical topics. Examples include discussing articles, discussing one another’s ongoing projects, engaging in group activities, and hearing from experienced faculty and campus leaders.

  • What topics will be covered?
  •  The Engaged Learning and Teaching community explores the question “How does learning work?” and covers topics related to student preparedness, motivation, class climate, the role of feedback, and ways students develop mastery to ultimately become self-directed learners. Sample topics include:

            ♦ Motivating Students
            ♦ Fostering Inclusivity
            ♦ Assessing Learning
            ♦ Promoting Critical Thinking
            ♦ Integrating Technology

    The First-Generation Faculty Learning Community focuses on issues related to navigating the academy as a first generation faculty-member and the role of first generation faculty members in providing equitable learning environments for current and future first-generation students. Sample topics include:

             ♦ Sharing first generation stories
             ♦ Pathways to higher education for first generation students
             ♦ Fostering community and social integration for first generation students
             ♦ Strategies to promote academic engagement and success for first generation students

    The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) Community’s main focus will be the completion of a SOTL project. Accordingly, content for winter quarter contains topics necessary for ideation, planning, and Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of teaching and learning research. During Spring quarter, participants have an opportunity to shape topics according to their interests and their projects’ needs. Sample topics include:

            ♦ Methods for analyzing data that are specific to community projects
            ♦ Research techniques that highlight diversity and intersectionality
            ♦ Using “found,” patchwork, or small-sample data
            ♦ Writing and information visualization for SOTL publication
            ♦ Planning for long-term funding and research agendas

  • What are the goals of the Learning Communities?
  • The goals of the Learning Communities are to:

            ♦ Create collaborative spaces in which faculty can connect with cross- and interdisciplinary colleagues.
            ♦ Increase faculty interest and capacity to engage in campus discourse about evidence-based teaching practice, and
            ♦ Cultivate reflective practitioners

  • What are the specific goals of each Learning Community?
  •         ♦ The goal of the Engaged Learning and Teaching Community is to increase knowledge and application of evidence-based, student-centered pedagogies to enhance teaching effectiveness.
            ♦ The goal of the First Generation Faculty Learning Community seeks to foster connection and community among first-gen faculty and share strategies to promote success for first generation faculty and and first generation students.
            ♦ The goal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) Community is to scaffold faculty pursuit of applied teaching and learning research, toward classroom improvement, innovation, and discovery.
  • What are the outcomes for Learning Community participants?
  • Learning Community participants will:

    ♦ Integrate research-based, learner-centered, inclusive pedagogical practices into their teaching practice. Related activities include: actively preparing and participating in Learning Community meetings (meetings will likely occur bi-weekly). Review and revise course materials (e.g., syllabi, learning outcomes, and class activities).
    ♦ Leverage collaborative relationships with cross- and interdisciplinary colleagues on topics related to learner-centered instructional innovation and success. Related activities include: sharing experiences, successes, and challenges with peers in Learning Community meetings. Providing feedback on observations and/or research design and implementation.
    ♦ Articulate the process for the development of skills for reflective teaching. Related activities include: writing reflections on the impact of participation in the Learning Community; undergoing a Mid-Quarter Inquiry (MQI).
    ♦ Conduct scholarship related to learner-centered instructional innovation and success. Related activities include: Designing research around a teaching innovation, considering appropriate evidence to assess and understand this innovation, and collecting, analyzing, and articulating data toward a new evidence-based understanding of this innovation (this is primarily for, but not limited to, the SOTL Community).
    ♦ Disseminate practices and scholarship to the broader teaching community at and beyond UC Davis. Related activities include: sharing work by providing a presentation, instructional resource materials (e.g., a classroom activity), and/or publication of findings at a UC Davis event and/or external venues.

  • Who will review the Learning Community applications?
  • CEE staff will evaluate all applications. Recommendations from the Review Committee will be forwarded to the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education for approval.
  • Questions
  • Questions about the Learning Communities or the application process may be directed to the Center for Educational Effectiveness. For the Engaged Learning and Teaching Learning Community and First-Generation Faculty Learning Community, contact Kem Saichaie at 530-752-9088. For the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) Learning Community, contact Stephanie Pulford at 530-752-6671.