LU News Archive

Learning Communities present outcomes aimed at improving teaching

Teacher-scholars from a variety of academic disciplines at Lamar University will present the results of a year of work as members of Faculty Learning Communities at an event Monday, May 14 in the Setzer Student Center Ballroom from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend and participate.

LU’s Center for Teaching and Learning Enhancement organized four Faculty Learning Communities at the beginning of the academic year to explore topics designed to enhance student learning and retention and further solidify LU’s academic community.  The Faculty Learning Communities are voluntary, year-long, multidisciplinary communities with eight to 12 members each. Participants include faculty members from art, biology, sociology, nursing, pedagogy, library studies, philosophy and communications.

“The Faculty Learning Communities program has been an incredible success in terms of creating community,” said Todd Pourciau, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Enhancement. “The networking among the faculty has been terrific, and the ideas that have emerged are really fascinating. I think the showcase will be really interesting because of the excitement level being exhibited by the members.”

Active Research and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning was the topic explored by one learning community this year. Facilitated by Vanessa Villate, assistant professor of professional pedagogy, and Chiung Fang Chang, associate professor of sociology, social work and criminal justice, the learning community focused on the research, scholarship and discovery of teaching and learning, as well as the introduction of teaching methods that promote active learning.

A second faculty learning community, Creating an Online Course of Substance, was facilitated by Nancy Blume, associate professor of nursing, and Cheng-Hsien Lin, associate professor of sociology, social work and criminal justice. The group focused on the design and curriculum of online or hybrid classes that utilize technology for half or more of total class time. Members discussed challenges, principles, standards and potential improvements to be implemented in online and distance education.

The High School to College Transition faculty learning community was facilitated by Tanya Goldbeck, assistant professor of professional pedagogy, and Paul Hemenway, professor of communication. The community focused on the first-year experience, with emphasis on how to assist students in making the transition from a "standardized-test" culture to a university atmosphere that values critical thinking, empirical and quantitative methods, communication skills, team work, and personal and social responsibility.

The Sustainability Across the Curriculum faculty learning community was facilitated by Tony Piereira, post-doctoral researcher and adjunct instructor of engineering, and Matt Hoch, chair and associate professor of biology. The group focused on infusing sustainability issues into existing courses or designing courses to focus on those issues with the goals of developing an undergraduate interdisciplinary minor in sustainability and creating a recycling program at LU.

Some of the Faculty Learning Communities also will offer poster presentations at Monday’s event and plan to present their outcomes at national conferences.

Suggestions for Faculty Learning Communities for the 2012-2013 academic year are now being accepted. For more information or to submit an idea for next year’s program, please visit