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  Programs

Proposed FLCs for 2008-09 academic year

 Due date for all applications: April 23rd, 2010, 4:00pm

How People Learn

The How People Learn FLC is offered every academic year to a new cohort of VCU faculty. The plan to accomplish the FLC's goals and objectives will change as a new cohort identifies issues that are of particular importance to them as they seek to understand how people learn. The core focus of this FLC is the exploration of the theories and science behind how people learn.

Purpose and Description

Recent research efforts in cognitive science, educational psychology, and neuroscience have made significant contributions to our understanding of how people learn. These research efforts have revolutionized some of the earlier theories on how people learn and have necessitated a change in classroom practice. Some of the recent findings question whether or not our current generation of students learn differently than their elders. Participants in this FLC will explore significant aspects of learning-related research, engage in discussions about the implications for teaching, and consider changing their teaching to reflect their new understanding.

Participants will determine the selection of topics for seminars and workshops that will guide the activities of the community for the academic year. During the Fall 2010 semester faculty members will explore a range of literature regarding how people learn. In the Spring 2011 semester, participants will build on knowledge and insights gained during the fall semester to propose, design and implement teaching projects aimed incorporating how people learn into their course design or teaching methods.

In addition to the individual projects, FLC members will also design and complete a collaborative project that will contribute to the meaningful use of the information on how people learn to the wider VCU community.

Activities

Participants will meet over a time period for learning, discussion, and support as a multidisciplinary and collegial community. Specifically, participants will:

  • Explore and discuss the current findings on ‘how people learn.’
  • Incorporate information from these findings into their classes.
  • Engage in an individual project.
  • Engage in a collective (i.e. group) project that will benefit the greater VCU community.
  • Assess the results of their individual course redesign and learning community’s efforts and disseminate that assessment.

Expectations

Participants will be expected to:

  • Attend and participate in regular bi-weekly meetings until their group project is completed.
  • Work with FLC colleagues as they explore current findings on ‘how people learn.’
  • Serve as a support system to FLC colleagues as they work through individual plans to revise courses based on ‘how people learn.’
  • In lieu of course revision, create and carry out an individual project.
  • Contribute to a virtual community on ‘how people learn.’
  • Design and carryout a group project based on the work of the FLC.
  • Prepare a mid-year progress report and a final report indicating the impact of the learning community. 
  • Discuss and implement an assessment plan for individual efforts and the group project.
  • Discuss dissemination of the assessment plan.

Who can apply?

All VCU faculty (full-time & part time) and professional staff who have teaching responsibilities are encouraged to apply. A signature from your chair or immediate supervisor indicating their support for your participation is also required (see signature lines at the end of the application).

Funding

Each participant will be awarded a $500 stipend to support their work within the FLC. The stipend is not considered personal pay and as such, it must be spent using state and departmental guidelines. Examples of acceptable use of funds include, but are not limited to: conference travel and registration, educational equipment / resources, computer hardware / software, etc. A portion of the funds will be distributed at the beginning of the FLC and in full at the beginning of the Spring 2011 semester. All funds must be spent before the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2011).

Community Facilitator

The community will be assisted by a facilitator from the CTE who is trained in pedagogy, cognitive science, and neuroscience and has experience in facilitating faculty learning communities.

Download Application
Due Date: April 23rd, 2010, 4:00pm

 


 

Promoting Critical Thinking

The Promoting Critical Thinking FLC is being offered by the CTE for the first time this upcoming academic year. If there is enough interest in this topic, we will offer it each year with varying themes.

Purpose and Description

Critical thinking is one of the more ubiquitous instructional goals in higher education and yet, it remains one of the biggest challenges for teachers. Teaching a course on critical thinking is one thing, promoting critical thinking skills in your students, while teaching the course content, is completely different. Yet, accrediting agencies, graduate schools, and future employers continue to have high expectations regarding the ability of university graduates to be self-guided, self-reflecting, self-monitoring and self-correcting citizens. Since most of us haven’t had any formal training, or feel particularly well-prepared on how to do this effectively, we are left to discover what works and what doesn’t through trial and error, or by participating in a general workshop on the topic that rarely offers context specific guidance. Although many of us have heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy, is that the best framework for integrating critical thinking into your course? Are there alternative frameworks that can be useful? Perhaps we need to ask bigger questions like, what does critical thinking mean in our own discipline. What should students be able to do to demonstrate that they can think critically and what kinds of activities will give them practice?

The focus of this FLC is to explore fundamental questions, issues, challenges and opportunities related to the promotion of critical thinking in higher education. Faculty members who are interested in any of the following questions are encouraged to apply:

  • What does critical thinking mean in your discipline?
  • What should students be able to do if they are to demonstrate that they are thinking critically?
  • What kinds of activities, both face to face and online, can be effective at promoting or assessing critical thinking?
  • Can we effectively promote critical thinking without attending to psychomotor or affective development as well?
  • Does our role shift when we move from delivering content to promoting critical thinking?
  • How do practitioners in your area self-assess, or provide constructive feedback to peers, patients, students, supervisors?
  • How can we motivate students to become more autonomous with respect to improving their own critical thinking skills?

Activities

Participants are expected to meet twice a month for an academic year. The fall semester is usually spent exploring the landscape of issues and possibilities, then identifying and learning more about the key issues that have particular relevance for the faculty participants who are attempting to integrate critical thinking into their teaching. The spring semester is a time in which participants can begin to develop both individual and collective plans for promoting critical thinking in the classroom, across the curriculum or across VCU.

Expectations

Participants will be expected to

  • Meet and participate regularly (twice a month)
  • Participate in / contribute to a virtual meeting space (blackboard, google docs, wikis, etc)
  • Participate in FLC assessment activities
  • Contribute to the development of a final report
  • Identify and contribute to a group project
  • Consider options for developing and conducting individual teaching projects
  • Consider options for sharing what they have learned to a wider audience

Eligibility

All VCU faculty (full-time & part time) and professional staff who have teaching responsibilities are encouraged to apply. A signature from your chair or immediate supervisor indicating their support for your participation is also required (see signature lines at the end of the application)

Funding

Each participant will be awarded a $500 stipend to support their work within the FLC. The stipend is not considered personal pay and as such, it must be spent using state and departmental guidelines. Examples of acceptable use of funds include, but are not limited to: conference travel and registration, educational equipment / resources, computer hardware / software, etc. All funds must be spent before the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2011).

Community Facilitator

The community will be assisted by a facilitator from the CTE who is trained in pedagogy and the mentoring of junior faculty.

Download Application
Due Date: April 23rd, 2010, 4:00pm

 


 

Exploring Online Program Development

The Engaging Online Learners Faculty Learning Community (FLC) is offered every academic year to a new cohort of VCU faculty.  The topical focus of this FLC has changed as new practices and new technologies evolved in online learning.   While the core focus of this FLC remains the exploration of instructional practices that enhance student learning in an online environment, it is timely for VCU to pull together program directors and chairs interested in collaboratively exploring the fit of online for their programs and then using best practices for creating or transitioning programs online.

Purpose and Description

Over the past six years nationally, online enrollments nationally have grown substantially faster than overall higher education enrollments (Allen and Seaman, 2009).  The same is not true at VCU.  Allen and Seaman report in the latest annual SLOAN-C survey that more than one in four college student nationally takes at least one online course.  Student interest is highest when entire programs are provided online.  This has occurred as the web has become much more social and participatory, generating new and compelling opportunities for instruction, community building and learning. The lack of programs offered online could become a recruiting and retention challenge as students opt to attend institutions that do offer online programs (McCarthy and Samors, 2009). 

Given this background, program directors and chairs are grappling with questions regarding the best fit of online offerings with their unique programs.  A Faculty Learning Community provides a venue to explore how programs have been developed and delivered online globally.  Working as a cohort, we can examine:

  • what could potentially be offered online (and what should not),
  • what are the benefits and challenges to online programs,
  • what opportunities do online programs afford that previously could not be met,
  • what are accreditation implications to program delivery online,
  • what institutional policies are needed, and
  • what support is needed to successfully launch an online delivered program.

Activities

This community will meet for the duration of the 2010 – 2011 academic year.  Participants will meet every 2-3 weeks either physically or virtually.  As a community, they will explore models and critique how other institutions offer online programs (or do not offer programs) to develop criteria for making decisions in a VCU context. During the fall semester, members will explore a wide range of possibilities for creating and delivering programs in a totally online environment.  In the spring semester, participants will build on knowledge and insights gained during the fall semester to develop a individual and group projects associated with the creation of high quality online programs.

Expectations

All community members will be expected to:

  • Actively contribute to the development of the community through regular participation in FLC activities.
  • Work creatively and collegially to support the learning of all FLC members.
  • Identify and create outlets for sharing the collective knowledge generated by the FLC.
  • Engage in and contribute to assessment activities related to the work of the FLC (e.g., individual assessments, group assessments, final FLC report)

Eligibility

This community welcomes participants who are program directors or chairs interested in exploring the development of online courses and programs for their school or college. 

Funding

Each participant will have available up to $500 to support the development of their online program project.  The stipend is not considered personal pay and as such, it must be spent using state and departmental guidelines. Examples of acceptable use of funds include, but are not limited to: conference travel and registration, educational equipment / resources, computer hardware / software, etc. All funds must be spent before the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2011).

Community Facilitator

The community will be assisted by a facilitator from the CTE who is trained in online pedagogy and course design, with fifteen years personal experience teaching online.

Download Application
Due Date: April 23rd, 2010, 4:00pm

 


Using Technology to Enhance Teaching and Learning: Networked Learning

Purpose and Description

The Using Technology to Enhance Teaching and Learning FLC is offered every academic year to a new cohort of VCU faculty members. The topical focus of this FLC changes as compelling technology-enhanced teaching practices are identified to support learning.

The topical focus of the Using Technology to Enhance Teaching and Learning FLC for the 2010-2011 academic year will be the exploration of the meaning and practice of networked learning in higher education.

This FLC begins with the perspective that the web has evolved into a space that is social and participatory, and that has generated new and exciting opportunities for learning with profound implications for higher education. Increasingly more important for educators is the need to come to terms with living in a world where access to the vast storehouse of human knowledge is quite literally at our fingertips, and where anyone with a connection to the Internet can publish text, images, audio and video. These affordances are combined with the ability to build and participate in web-based social networks that establish connections between one learner and other learners, and between a learning community and it’s shared learning resources. Within this context, traditional notions of where learning takes place, of the teacher – learner relationship, and ideas of control and expertise are being [re]thought. Members of this FLC will have the opportunity to explore, use and critique web-based technologies and practices that support networked learning, as well as consider their broader impact on education.

Activities

Meeting every 2 weeks, members of this community will spend the fall 2010 semester exploring tools and practices that support networked learning. As a group, members will identify and experiment with digital technologies that can enhance information filtering, resource sharing, communication, collaboration, learning and network building. Community members will be encouraged to consider both the theory and practice of creating personal learning networks and the implications they have for teaching and learning. By the end of the fall 2010 semester, community members will propose a project for integrating some aspect(s) of networked learning into a course they are teaching.

In the spring 2011 semester, each community member will implement and assess the impact of some element of networked learning within a course they are teaching. As a group, the learning community will share and discuss their individual course-based projects to generate a more holistic picture of networked learning from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Community members will be encouraged to share insights, challenges and successes with their departmental colleagues and the wider University community.

Expectations

All community members will be expected to:

  • Actively contribute to the development of the community through regular participation in FLC activities.
  • Work creatively and collegially to support the learning of all FLC members.
  • Identify and create outlets for sharing the collective knowledge generated by the FLC.
  • Engage in and contribute to assessment activities related to the work of the FLC (e.g., individual assessments, group assessments, final FLC report)

Eligibility

All VCU faculty (full-time & part time) and professional staff who have teaching responsibilities are encouraged to apply. A signature from your chair or immediate supervisor indicating their support for your participation is also required (see signature lines at the end of the application).

Funding

Each participant will be awarded a $500 stipend to support his or her work within the FLC. The stipend is not considered personal pay, and must be spent in a manner consistent with VA State and departmental guidelines. Examples of acceptable use of funds include, but are not limited to: conference travel and registration, educational equipment / resources, computer hardware / software, etc. All funds must be spent before the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2011).

Community Facilitator

A facilitator from the CTE who is trained in pedagogy and the effective use of digital technology to support networked learning will assist the community as they explore this topic.

Download Application
Due Date: April 23rd, 2010, 4:00pm

   

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