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Learning Communities

A Learning Community (LC) is a cross-disciplinary, faculty-driven group of 6-12 members (which can include staff and graduate students as well) engaging in a yearlong program to promote the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Their activities include frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, research-based development, and community building. Participants typically engage in bi-weekly seminars and retreats and present results to the campus. LCs increase faculty interest in teaching and provide an atmosphere which allows faculty to investigate new teaching methods and partner with staff and students.

These communities are designed to build collaboration and fellowship among faculty, staff, and students from across the university. A Learning Community is focused on colleagues sharing expertise with one another to enhance knowledge and improve learning for students. 

Call for 2015-2016 Learning Community Participants

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning announces four new learning communities open to faculty, staff and graduate students. If you are interested in joining one of these LCs, fill out the Learning Communities Interest Form

Register soon! Some Learning Communities will begin meeting in Summer 2015 while others will wait until the Fall based on participant preferences and the goals of the Learning Communities.

Select the titles below to learn more about each Learning Community.

Teaching Ethics Across Disciplines
Facilitator: Elysa White, Philosophy (
While many programs and specialty schools require an independent ethics class to be taught in their particular fields, most professors who are put in charge of this task lack the training to teach this kind of class in a way that truly reaches and teaches students who will be practicing in these fields in the most productive and effective ways. This is one hole in our institution's pedagogy that this learning community aims to help fulfill. In addition, stand-alone ethics classes are wonderful assets (and often required assets) for preparing students for work in their respective professions. This LC works together to understand how ethics is incorporated into their field, how to teach the fundamental concepts and moral issues to students, and begin to create workshops for disciplines on ethics pedagogy.

Learning Objectives

  • To help professors learn how to incorporate ethics into the classroom
  • To work collaboratively to create teaching materials and hold workshops with various disciplines to do just that
  • To otherwise engage in activities that would enhance our ability to create a Center for Ethics with the aim of getting participants to be involved in its creation in the future 

Open to: Faculty/Staff/Grad Students

P4 Research: Procrastination Prevention Program for Peer Research
Facilitators: Per-Erik Milam, Philosophy (

Sam Srauy, Communication and Journalism (

This learning community provides new faculty members at Oakland University with a scholarship support group as they establish their individual research programs. Our group seeks to reduce the anxiety associated with the research, publication, and the teaching processes by providing a safe, supportive, and constructive forum in which to develop projects, workshop in-progress projects, and share advice on the publication process. Because teaching is an important part of junior faculty members’ success, and because developing a balance between teaching and research is a particular challenge for new faculty, this learning community also encourages peer sharing of teaching and learning strategies.

Open to: Faculty

Interprofessional Education in the Health Professions
Facilitators: Cheryl Riley-Doucet, School of Nursing (

Stephen Loftus, School of Medicine (

Deb Doherty, School of Health Science (

Interprofessional Education in the Health Professions Learning Community (IPELC) progresses the collaboration among faculty, staff and students across university professional schools and departments. The three priority objectives of the IPELC are
  • To establish a learning community for faculty, staff and graduate students to develop collaborative interprofessional education partnerships and explore opportunities for a wide range of scholarly and curriculum projects which includes student capstone projects
  • To plan activities related to health care across professional schools within Oakland University to enhance knowledge and skills about interprofessional education and research, and
  • To develop a sustainability plan with measurable outcomes in order to seek external funding for interprofessional educational research and curriculum programs. 
Open to: Faculty/Staff/Grad Students

Human Animal Interventions: Education and Research
Facilitators: Jennifer Cepnick ( and Amy Johnson ( School of Nursing

Center for Human Animal Interventions

The Human Animal Interventions (HAI) Learning Community is dedicated to expanding the knowledge of the powerful bond between humans and animals and how it makes Animal Assisted Interventions possible. The HAI Learning Community is a cross-disciplinary platform for educators working together to share research, scholarship, and curriculum methodologies. Human-Animal bonds increase empathy and foster in positive healthy behavior. This LC will be of interest to those in nursing, education, counseling and social work, and other social service fields.

Learning Objectives

  • To advance empirical knowledge about the human animal bond and animal assisted interventions
  • To emphasize the distinction between Animal Assisted Therapy, Animal Assisted Activities and Animal Assisted Education
  • To facilitate collaboration for cross-disciplinary curriculum development
Open to: Faculty/Instructors/Staff/Grad Students


Ethics: Integration Across the Disciplines


Facilitator: Mark Rigstad, Philosophy

Ethics is fundamental to every discipline and every profession we are getting our students ready for—and it is obviously necessary for being a well-rounded, contributing member and informed participant in society. This Learning Community will consider how we can integrate ethics across the curriculum at Oakland University. By meeting and brainstorming together, we can form interdisciplinary ideas and works that will help implement greater, more in depth and effective ethics training for our students. The ultimate goal is to begin to forge a center for ethics across the curriculum at OU

Open to: Faculty/Instructors/Staff/Grad Students


Digital Humanities in the Classroom

Facilitator: Dominique Daniel, Library

Members of the OU community are invited to learn about the history and development of digital humanities and some current directions relating to their field. This Learning Community will review examples of how digital humanities research and scholarship is being applied in classrooms, by both faculty and students. Learning Community participants will walk away with a plan of action for implementing digital humanities tools in their own classrooms and research.

Open to: Faculty/Instructors/Staff/Grad Students

Incorporating MOOCs into the Curriculum

Facilitator: Greg Allar, International Programs

Members of the OU community are invited to explore the progress and possibilities of adapting and incorporating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) into classrooms and online courses currently offered at Oakland University. This Learning Community will investigate alternative ways to improve and enhance student learning and teaching. Learning Community participants will collaborate and share insight gained on MOOCs with the university community i.e. faculty, staff and students.

Open to: Faculty/Instructors/Staff/Grad Students

Supervising Graduate Student Research

Facilitator: Eileen Johnson, Educational Leadership

Members of the OU community are invited to share knowledge and experiences regarding supervision of graduate student research across university programs and among both novice and seasoned faculty members. This Learning Community will explore current trends in graduate research programs, as well as models of effective supervision. The Learning Community will Increase participants’ awareness of graduate programs across the university and increase opportunities for student-faculty collaboration across disciplines.

Open to: Faculty/Instructors

Enhancing Student Performance in the Psychomotor Domain
Melodie Kondratek-
John Krauss -

Teaching novel psychomotor skills is central to many courses within the School of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing, as well as many other courses and programs (theater and dance, athletics) across the Oakland University campus. Multiple factors contribute to competent performance of motor skills, including characteristics of the learner, the type of task, the learning and performance environment, and the instructional technology and methods used during teaching. This multidisciplinary FLC will explore pedagogy used for successful instruction of psychomotor skills including the use of directed feedback, instructional design, and instructional technology.'

SurPriSe: Surveillance, Privacy and Security
Jay Meehan -
Thomas Lauer - 

This learning community will explore the relevance of surveillance, privacy, and security to teaching and research. All three, surveillance, privacy, and security have undergone major changes in the last three decades. Significant factors have included technological developments (e.g. the Internet, development of large shared databases, increasingly sophisticated software for data mining), the globalization of the economy and the enhanced importance of borders to control population migration, the spread of disease, and other social problems, and alteration to the legal and social landscape subsequent to 9/11 via the war on terrorism. Understanding these three topics and the relationships among them inherently requires an interdisciplinary perspective. 

GRASP - Grizzly Response : Awareness and Suicide Prevention
Dalton Connally -

This FLC will provide a place that teachers and staff can discuss and learn (through workshops) how to handle alarming student behavior and how to effectively direct the student to appropriate resources.   We will review literature to determine state of the art prevention techniques, classroom management and critical incident response.  This FLC will be one aspect of a large SAMSHA grant that mandates an ongoing community of faculty, staff and administrators committed to addressing suicide prevention and awareness at Oakland University. Learn more about  GRASP

Connecting Learning Theory to Practice and Scholarship
Jennifer Eastwood-

Becoming familiar with learning theory not only empowers faculty members to develop more effective and cohesive curricula, but also to speak the language of the community of teaching and learning scholars. In this multidisciplinary FLC, a committed group of faculty members will become familiar with theories of learning and their applications in the literature. We will develop and reflect upon our personal theories of learning and provide constructive criticism as each faculty member creates a publishable work applying theory to teaching practice. Members of the FLC will be provided with a copy of How People Learn (NRC, 2000) and a book of their choice to dig deeper into learning theory.

Campus Engagement and Retention
Christopher Jensen-

How faculty and staff connect with students is vital to their social and academic integration at the institution.  By discussing the issues and research on the factors of engagement will provide faculty and staff with practices that will assist in the retention of students at OU. This learning community will begin to build bridges between curricular and co-curricular experiences, which will enhance students’ learning.  The integrative approach moves beyond just programs to the collaboration of talents, knowledge, and resources.  In a time of limited funds, having the opportunity to discuss the possibility of collaborations between existing experiences within Oakland University will provide a better understanding of the connections that can be made. 

Integration of Arts and Sciences
Alberto Rojo -
Donna Voronovich - 
Corrie Baldauf - 
Josephine Walwema -

This faculty learning community seeks to explore and share insights, theories, and methods in teaching arts and sciences.  The learning community will strive to build bridges among the disciplines to enhance students’ learning.  This integration allows the learning community to draw from the expertise of a diverse group of OU faculty members, thereby breaking the “silo effect.”  Through this collaborative process, individual faculty members will benefit by learning new teaching strategies in an enriching educational community.


More About Learning Communities and Proposals

Proposing a OU Learning Community

The period for proposing Learning Communities has now past. Read about the process below, and consider proposing a Learning Community Fall 2014.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning provides support for Learning Communities focusing on the scholarship of teaching and learning.

New Initiatives for Learning Communities for the coming year.

  1. Range from 1 to 1½ years long (January 2014-August 2015)
  2. Inclusive and expanded to include collaboration with staff, administrators and graduate students
  3. Focus on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

What is an OU Learning Community?How can the support funding be used?
What are the goals of OU Learning Communities?What is required if I want to propose an OU Learning Community?
On what kinds of topics can an OU Learning Community focus?If I am currently leading a faculty learning community, can I submit a proposal to continue the community for a second year?
What is involved in facilitating an OU Learning Community?What Learning Communities have there been in the past?

What is an OU Learning Community?
  • Active, collaborative year-long program
  • 6-12 faculty, graduate students and professional staff
    • who are interested in exploring a topic related to teaching and learning
    • who represent a variety of disciplines (cross-disciplinary interaction)
    • who are willing to meet bi-weekly to explore the topic
  • Oakland Learning Communities will be
    • led by a topic expert from OU’s faculty
    • some communities will be relevant and specific to faculty, while others will be inclusive including faculty, staff and students
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What are the goals of OU Learning Communities?
  • Faculty collaborating with one another and staff and students to share expertise, to improve student learning and improve teaching
  • Shared inquiry about a topic of mutual interest
  • Building friendships and mentorships across disciplines
  • Introducing new knowledge into the teaching environment
  • Advance the scholarship of teaching and learning
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On what kinds of topics can an OU Learning Community focus?
  • All groups will engage in aspects of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)
    • SoTL recognizes teaching as scholarly work and encourages members to use research to better understand and improve their own teaching practices and how such work will improve learning across the campus.
    • SoTL values the dissemination of work through such activities as presentations and scholarly articles.
Examples of topics might include:
  • problem-based learning
  • case study methods
  • mentoring undergraduate research
  • engaging students in large classes
  • effective methods for teaching adults
  • student learning through writing
  • critical thinking, service learning
  • high impact practices
  • diversity
  • leading study abroad
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What is involved in facilitating an OU Learning Community?
  • Submit a proposal.
  • If accepted, seek membership and participation with assistance from CETL.
  • Organize regular sessions (approximately twice a month).
  • Facilitate sessions.
  • Submit a final report.
  • Share results of LC with others on campus.
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How can the support funding be used?

Up to $1,500 is available for the following:
  • Support for books and materials related to the topic
  • Support for travel to conference on learning community topic (or to teaching and learning conference)
  • Support for travel for regional expert on the selected topic to come to OU
  • Support for other activities may be available if approved
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What is required if I want to propose an OU Learning Community?
  • Fill out the online proposal form.
  • Due date for proposal submission: November 30, 2013
  • Agree to facilitate LC beginning in January 2014-August 2015. (Note: This year’s LCs may function for up to 1½ years.)
  • Agree to share what you have learned and done in a campus forum.
  • Complete a final report on the results of the learning community and how funds were used.

If I am currently leading a faculty learning community, can I submit a proposal to continue the community for a second year?

Yes, a proposal can be submitted to continue a current learning community, but new objectives should be provided.