Past Faculty Learning Communities

  • Student Veteran Pedagogy
    (Facilitator: Patrick Richey)
    Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) has been a forerunner in educating military veterans for almost one hundred years. Since World War One, MTSU has warmly welcomed veterans into the student body after their service to the nation was complete. Even though, This tradition of helping male and female veterans succeed on campus continues, the current campus climate is unique. The United States has greatly reduced its mission commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The military is shrinking in this post-war economically strained era and large numbers of soldiers are being released from service. Universities (including MTSU) have a record number of student veterans (Lighthall, 2012). President Barak Obama, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and MTSU President Dr. Sidney A. McPhee understand the importance of insuring quality education for veterans in their initiatives. President McPhee hired the retired three star general Keith Huber to coordinate MTSU’s veteran’s services and assets in 2015.

    Professional Learning Community 
    (Facilitators: Heather Dillard & Terry Goodin)
    Professional Learning Communities have become common practice in many K-12 school systems across the country and worldwide; however, in higher education they remain largely unknown. Researchers and practitioners alike speak of the power of PLCs to transform the success of students. As higher education institutions have reached a critical juncture for increasing student success, new literature reveals that many of the PLC practices proving successful in K-12 could also help college students be more successful. Drs. Robert Eaker and Deb Sells have a new book on the topic due to be released in the fall of 2015. In the introduction to the book, they state:

    Support for embedding professional learning community concepts and practices can be found throughout the professional literature, and has been supported by virtually every major educational organization in the United States. The professional learning community concept holds great promise for re-shaping how leaders of institutions of higher education think, how they work, and more importantly how well students succeed. (Eaker & Sells, in press, p. ii).

    Graduate Education 
    (Facilitator: Tom Brinthaupt) 
    Consistent with the College of Graduate Studies (CGS) Institutional Effectiveness goals to enhance the graduate student experience and the MTSU Student Success Initiative, we offer the Graduate Education Faculty Learning Community.

    Intentional support for graduate faculty and for graduate student mentoring as aspects of the student success goals has historically not been a focus of the MTSU campus nor of the LT&ITC. Students, through our exit interviews or conversations with CGS in general have noted that some faculty do not alter their classes to better reach and challenge the graduate students, and that mentoring for GTAs is hit and miss depending on the program of study, as is career mentoring. Further, graduate students and graduate faculty alike note that research mentoring can be difficult at best, particularly in the thesis/dissertation stage. In fact, Vick and Furlong argue in a 2010 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that mentoring graduate students is an issue many universities face and is an aspect of the academic culture fraught with unique complications as the graduate student and advisor interact. Despite the many success stories for MTSU graduate faculty and student alike, we join other universities in needing to address “best practices” when it comes to faculty working with graduate students.

  • Information Literacy
    (Facilitator: Jason Vance, Walker Library)
    Used the Association for College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) newly drafted Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (2014) as a basis for its discussions and work. Members critically examined each of the five concept thresholds through common readings and discussions, and considered their applicability within the FLC members’ academic disciplines. Participants discussed how successful students might embody these abilities; considered related learning outcomes and assessments; and identified possible assignments that could be used to incorporate these concept thresholds into existing MTSU classes.  

  • Reacting to the Past
    (Facilitators: Dawn McCormack & Becky McIntyre)Reacting to the Past

    is an innovative teaching pedagogy developed by Mark Carnes of Barnard College, the women’s college associated with Columbia University (see This approach uses unscripted role playing games set in the past, initially to teach history, but now encompassing other disciplines such as the sciences. Reacting engages students in an unprecedented manner, and they become motivated to spend hours outside of class, working with and discussing primary texts in order to “win” the game while also developing key skills and deep and lasting friendships which connect students to each other and the university, thus aiding in retention.  

  • Plagiarism
    Facilitators: Emily Baran & Mike Paulauskas, Department of History)

    This FLC is motivated by the belief that better equipping faculty with classroom tools and knowledge of university resources will result in a higher engagement with plagiarism prevention and encourage academic honesty among our students. The outcome of this FLC will be the careful development of an accessible set of plagiarism prevention resources available through the LT&ITC for all MTSU faculty.  

  • Civic Learning and Civic Engagement
    (Facilitators: May Evins, Center for Historic Preservation, and Laura Clark, Educational Leadership)

    The prior work of the MTSU Faculty Learning Community on Civic Engagement has brought attention to MTSU from across the state. At present, community college partners within the TBR system are discussing using the MTSU model of a civic learning and civic engagement faculty learning community within their own colleges. We want to promote that, and support their efforts, because such engagement continues in a very tangible way MTSU’s linkages to our state’s community colleges, bridges divides between our institutions, provides collegial opportunities for our faculty to support one another, and further prepares Tennessee community college students for their advanced work at MTSU.

  • eLearning Pedagogies
    (Facilitated by Justin Garner, Amy Hennington-Harris)

    Examines best practices for teaching online and hybrid courses. Participants work on incorporating technologies into their individual courses as well as designing appropriate assessment procedures to evaluate the effectiveness of those changes.

  • Teaching Mentoring Program
    (Facilitated by Tim Graeff)

    This FLC is engaged in a year-long collaborative program designed to identify and develop the unique skills and abilities that are required of a good mentor. The group as a whole mets once a month for community building and discussions related to teaching effectiveness and the mentoring process. These discussions highlighted the behaviors and skills that are necessary for being a good teaching mentor. The members of the FLC will also mentor each other next spring to learn the process of classroom observation and feedback. Deans representing the various colleges and disciplines on campus were asked to nominate faculty members who were not only excellent teachers but who could also make excellent teaching mentors. Click here for more information on MTSU's Mentoring Program.

  • General Education/Common Core
    (Facilitated by Sheila Otto; partnered with Liberal Arts)

    This FLC is studied Common Core Standards and mapped the Standards to the TBR General Education Outcomes. A piece about this FLC was published in an Ayers Institute newsletter; click here to read.

  • Mid-Career Faculty
    (facilitated by Deana Raffo & Tom Brinthaupt)

    Modeled after the existing program, but geared specifically to those faculty who have been recently tenured and promoted.

  • SOTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) FLC
    This FLC allowed a group of faculty members to develop and begin to conduct SOTL research projects. The FLC studied online courses and tried to better understand what students think of online courses and how this compares to what faculty members think of online courses. They have amassed a large dataset of student and faculty responses. These data will lead to a number of research papers on this topic. Click here for more information on SOTL.