Campus News

New Faculty Learning Communities will enhance teaching, learning

On campus, UGA freshmen reap the social and academic benefits of participating in year-long Student Learning Communities.

By May, faculty will be able to participate in a similar program, which will enhance teaching and learning while facilitating new connections among colleagues, called Faculty Learning Communities.

‘Auspicious’ time for FLCs

“The detachment of academic life is even more pervasive now, and the need for a holistic and collective understanding of how we can assist learning is that more urgent,” said Nelson Hilton, director of the Center for Learning and Teaching, which has been working since the fall to launch FLC program.  “The time seems auspicious for a program of FLCs at UGA.”

According to Hilton, for the past 25 years FLCs have gained prominence, and their personal, social and academic benefits have been generally recognized.
 “FLCs offer the same positive experiences for teachers, who are even more separated in departmental silos and research commitments than our students,” he said.  “FLCs enable us to realize and appreciate the wonderful expansiveness of the university in the company of colleagues for whom the process of learning itself offers an engaging area of research.”

They also have been proven to contribute to faculty retention, intellectual development, a heightened focus on student learning and a stronger scholarship of teaching and learning, he added.

Seven FLCs have been planned, consisting of six to 12 faculty from different areas who will meet every three weeks. At the end of the academic year, the FLCs may present any conclusions at a university-wide forum.

The 2007-2008 FLCs and facilitators, who have been organizing since December, are:

• Service-Learning: Supporting Student Engagement and Faculty Research—Gayle Andrews and Kathy Thompson, elementary and social studies;
• Academic Upcycling: Improving Student Scholarship through Assignment Design—Caroline Barratt, Nadine Cohen and Deb Raftus, libraries;
• Feminist and Anti-Racist Teaching as Theory and Practice—Chris Cuomo, women’s studies;
• Visual Thinking: New Strategies for Using Visual Material in the Digital Era—Emy Decker, art;
• Integrating Qualitative Data Analysis Software into Qualitative Research and Teaching—Linda Gilbert, education;
• Collaborative Learning: Class Environments that Value Cooperation over Competition—Mark Huber, management information systems, and Rob Shewfelt, food science; and
• Digital Storytelling—David Noah, CTL.

The FLCs will formally begin with a lunch meeting May 1 with Provost Arnett Mace and Vice President for Instruction Jere Morehead.
Information on how to join is available online at