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 equity focused and research-based strategies in their teaching. CEE offers two faculty learning communities: Engaged Learning and Teaching and First-Generation. 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 $1,000 award of academic enrichment funds to put toward instructional enhancement activities (e.g., conference travel, software, other teaching materials). Participants also receive a certificate of completion. 

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, engage in pedagogical 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 and trajectory. 

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).

Who is eligible?

Any full-time member of the Academic Senate at UC Davis may apply. Priority will be given to those hired since July 2017 for the ELTC community. The FGLC is open to any full-time member of the Academic Senate at UC Davis who is a first-generation college graduate. Federation members may apply to the FGLC  but are not eligible for AEF at this time.

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. 


Learning communities program lead: Kem Saichaie, Ph.D., Director of Learning and Teachingkemsaichaie@ucdavis.edu

  • 2021 Cohort
  • Engaged Learning and Teaching Community First Generation Faculty Learning Community 
    Maria Chondronikola, Nutrition Eleftheria Arapoglou, American Studies
    Kathleen Cruz, Classics Robert Bayley, Linguistics
    Sara Dye, Plant Pathology Erin Gray, English
    Ali Moghimi, Biological & Agricultural Engineering Jeanette Ruiz, Faculty Lead for First Gen Initiatives, Communication
    Jaroslav Trnka, Physics and Astronomy Emily C Vázquez Enríquez, Spanish & Portuguese
  • 2020 Cohort
  • Engaged Learning and Teaching Community First Generation Faculty Learning Community 
    Ga Young Chung, Asian America Studies Mona Monfared, Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Xiaoli Dong, Environmental Science and Policy William Sewell, University Writing Program
    Debbie Fetter, Nutrition Joseph Sorensen, East Asian Languages and Cultures
    Rucha Joshi, Biomedical Engineering Cecilia Tsu, History
    Emily Merchant, Science and Technology Studies  
    Faheemah Mustafaa, School of Education  
    Cameron Pittelkow, Plant Science  
    Wang Liao, Communication  
  • 2019 Cohort
  • Engaged 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
  • Engaged 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
  • Engaged 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 kickoff meeting).
    ♦ 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 learning community experience or classroom innovation (e.g., at a teaching event, First-Gen 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).
    ♦ Complete individual project relating to the theme of the community and their own teaching interests and trajectory. 
    ♦ Submit a reflective analysis of their participation in the Learning Community by June 30, 2021.
    ♦ 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 2021 Learning Communities
  • The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) offers two faculty learning communities where you can connect with peers and talk deeply about how to pursue instructional success in your classrooms. We are looking for a diverse group of participants who would like to share their instructional approaches, investigate educational change, and think through how to apply research in the field to their teaching practice. A description of each community is below:

    ♦ The Engaged Learning and Teaching Community (ELTC) will provide support for pre-tenure faculty members who seek to build and enhance their instructional abilities and teaching skills, share pedagogical successes and challenges, and establish a foundation for research-based teaching. Topics will focus on shared issues and the resources that will support their instructional efforts. The community will consist of up to 8 members.

    ♦ The First-Generation Learning Community (FGLC) seeks to foster connection and community among first-gen faculty, defined as faculty whose parents or guardians did not complete four-year college degrees. The group will discuss issues related to first-generation students and their learning needs and explore how to support first-generation faculty in their teaching and research. The First-Generation Faculty Learning Community builds on the First Gen Initiative at UC Davis and in the UC System. Jeanette Ruiz (CMN), Faculty Lead for First Generation Initiatives will be co-facilitating these session. The community will consist of up to 8 members.

  • Important Dates for Learning Communities
  • ♦ November 9, 2021: Call for applications
    ♦ Extended! January 15, 2021: Applications due
    ♦ Week of January 18, 2021: Award letters to participants 
    ♦ Weeks of January 18 and 25, 2021: Kickoff Meetings 
    ♦ June 30th, 2021: Final Learning Community Project report due
  • 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 “Kickoff” meeting. Refreshments are provided during in-person meetings. Meeting activities: Meetings feature activities designed to promote participants' active engagement in pedagogical topics. Examples include leading discussions of the focus books, reviewing scholarly articles, providing feedback one another’s ongoing projects, engaging in group activities, and interacting with 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:

             ♦ Addressing Imposter Syndrome (as educators and scholars)
             ♦ Sharing first generation stories and experiences as first-gen faculty members
             ♦ Pathways to higher education (and beyond) for first-generation students
             ♦ Fostering community and social integration for first-generation students
             ♦ Strategies to promote academic engagement and success for first generation students

  • 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 equity-focused and evidence-based teaching practice. 
            ♦ 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.
  • 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).
    ♦ 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 Interim Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education for approval.
  • Questions
  • For specific questions regarding the learning community experience, contact Kem Saichaie (kemsaichaie@ucdavis.edu), learning community program lead.