A faculty learning community is a cross-disciplinary faculty group of 5 or more members engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum focus on specific topics about pedagogy in higher education.

General criteria that define Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs):

  • An ongoing opportunity for faculty members to meet regularly to learn about and reflect on their teaching.  FLCs focus on specific topics about pedagogy in higher education.

  • Faculty led, with support from the Center for Teaching and other relevant University of Iowa units
  • Outcomes can take many different forms, depending on the goals of the group and the needs of the University.  Possible outcomes include a summary paper, a web site (or pages), a workshop for peers, literature reviews, conference presentations and publications, or policy recommendations for administrators.
  • FLCs often begin the academic year by sharing short readings that can then be used to jump-start discussion.  FLC members can build on these early discussions to create individual teaching projects that are assessed or more global projects around curricular or policy design or contextualizing what is happening on a campus in light of the larger frameworks of contemporary higher education.  Frameworks created by professional organizations such as the American Association of Colleges and Universities could serve to guide discussion and outcomes at this level.
  • “A faculty learning community is a cross-disciplinary faculty group of 5 or more members (8 to 12 is the recommended size) engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, interdisciplinary, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and community.”  Milton D. Cox, “Essays on Teaching Excellence,” 2002-03.
  • Faculty Learning Communities are encouraged to choose readings from a range of genres, including academic journals, serial publications in higher ed such as the Chronicle of Higher Ed, periodic publications by national/international higher ed organizations such as the American Association of Colleges & Universities, fiction, and the popular press.  For example, an FLC at Michigan State University that focuses on “Leadership Skills for Faculty in a Team-Taught Curriculum” chose to read Shakleton’s Way:  Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer.

Support & Funding

Center for Teaching staff can help organize the group, schedule meetings, and reserve rooms. Center staff members can attend FLC meetings when appropriate. 

Funding from the Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology can provide books used to spark discussion during FLC meetings, enable FLC members to attend relevant community events, or participate in working dinners.   

Big Ideas Faculty Learning Community