Community of Practice

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A NTLC Community of Practice (CoP) is comprised of instructors who come together to explore a teaching and student learning topic that participants are mutually interested in studying; one that encourages honest discussion and classroom scholarship of higher education issues. The program runs throughout an academic year.

2019-2020 Communities of Practice

Intercultural Intervention for Inclusive Climate and Retention (I3-CAR)

Leni Marshall, English and Philosophy and an Intercultural Development Ambassador, is collaborating with departmental colleagues to advance their intercultural awareness in a research project. These general-education composition instructors are using intensive, focused professional development activities, with the goal of increasing one category for each criterion on the AACU’s Intercultural VALUE rubric and one standard deviation in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). Ultimately, the goal of the CoP is to improve student retention rates through this targeted professional development experience of faculty. Marshall’s research is supported by the 2019-2020 UW System ARG/AR-WiTAG Grant Program and NTLC.

Using Small Teaching Techniques to Enhance Student Learning

Instructors from across the campus are meeting on a biweekly basis to explore how to use “small” teaching techniques to improve student learning in courses. Participants will design, implement and assess small-scale changes that make teaching and student learning more effective and efficient without requiring an overhaul of course content. They will read and discuss Small Teachings: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James Lang. Additional group readings, conversations, speakers and classroom applications will assist them in identifying practical teaching strategies. Renee Howarton, NTLC Director, is facilitating the CoP.

2018-2019 Communities of Practice

Classroom Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs): Integrating Original Research into the Classroom

Steve Nold, Biology, assisted six science teachers in creating, implementing, and assessing the effectiveness of using classroom-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) to teach their laboratory courses. They spent fall semester reading literature and learning about CUREs and planning their learning objectives and assessments for their classroom scholarship projects. During spring semester, they implemented the CURE and assessed student learning. As a group, they submitted two abstracts for a national meeting of biology educators (Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research, SABER) and one was accepted.  Five of them attended this conference.

Integrating and Applying RSD and ACRL Frameworks

Sylvia Tiala, Technology Education, and Jessy Polzer, Library Learning Center, co-facilitated a CoP that helped participants integrate and apply the Research Skills Development (RSD) Framework and the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy (FIL). Members played with these flexible frameworks in the context of an existing course and developed a related instructional project. Personal reflection and cross-disciplinary discussion revealed pedagogical gaps, identified expertise blind spots, and re-framed approaches to research and/or information literacy skills development. This nation-wide, online CoP actively engaged participants from multiple institutions in discussion and submission of feedback and project materials. 

Locally Sourced: Using Information to Reflect and Create

Heather Stecklein, University Archivist, for a second time, provided presentations and activities to CoP participants regarding elements of primary source literacy and classroom application. The goal was to assist instructors in collaboratively creating and evaluating classroom exercises related to media literacy, applied research, and the ethical presentation of information in class projects. This CoP explored local data, using primary resources according to the guidelines created by the Association for College and Research Libraries framework. The CoP also worked through ways to encourage students to identify their own place within scholarly and professional communications.

Sustainability Infused Across the Curriculum

Wendy Jedlicka, CPP, ISSP-SA, instructor in Stout’s Design Department, CoP facilitator, and the national coordinator for the Partnership for Academic Leadership in Sustainability (PALS), and an acknowledged leader in applied sustainability, guided instructors in infusing applied sustainability best practices into their curriculum. Using a hybrid format and content used with Stout's popular Intro to Sustainable Design and Development (DES150) course, individuals participated in a series of readings and exercises to identify opportunities where they meaningfully infused sustainability into one of their courses. Courses selected for the CoP didn’t have to be about sustainability, but instead this CoP looked for natural ways to include this topic into any course or standalone module.

User Experience (UX) Community of Practice

Mitch Ogden, Department of English & Philosophy and CoP facilitator, brought together faculty under the broad umbrella of user experience (UX), which included user-centered design, usability, human-computer interaction, user testing, interface design, playtesting, interaction design, and many other related areas. UX is a cross-disciplinary enterprise and this CoP provided a meaningful and sustained opportunity to bring faculty members together from different departments and programs to share ideas about teaching and research, fostering innovation and collaboration across campus. Industry is clamoring for graduates who have developed a robust UX perspective with the accompanying practical skills to put UX into action in many different contexts. We are calling together our critical mass of UX people at Stout to improve the teaching and learning of UX and create more opportunities around UX on our campus. Participants identified and pursued a professional or pedagogical goal or project (PoPGoP) and got together with CoP members twice a month: once to discuss our PoPGoPs—sharing ideas and expertise—and again to participate in an open UX symposium where participants took turns facilitating an activity or discussion for the larger campus community, including students.

2017-2018 Communities of Practice

Encountering Information: Inspiration, Reflection and Application

Heather Stecklein, University Archivist, facilitated instructors in developing course assignments that required their students to apply evaluative research skills to their coursework. Throughout the CoP, Heather demonstrated ways that participant classes could draw from primary source resources in Stout’s archival collections and the collections of the larger University Library. Participants cooperatively created teaching activities to assist their students in distinguishing accurate scholarly resources from less reputable alternatives. An ethics-based session was included to encourage students to consider their responsibility to provide accurate context as they summarize and represent their sources in final projects. 

NTLC Teaching Champions

A small team of instructors engaged in targeted book discussions, interacted with speakers, and researched teaching-related issues. They also developed and assessed a course-based scholarly project, and eventually disseminated their project outcomes. This CoP provided a supportive environment for concentrated exploration of effective teaching strategies. It was facilitated by Renee Howarton, NTLC Director.

Retention of New Environmental Science Students: Focusing on Mindsets and Skills that Promote Long-Term Learning

Krista James, Biology, guided colleagues within Environmental Science in exploring how to increase retention of new Environmental Science students through developing and implementing curriculum that focuses on mindsets and skills that promote long-term learning. Participants researched and discussed best practices that help students develop a growth mindset towards learning.

SimSchool: Teaching Simulations as Sound Pedagogy

Sylvia Tiala, School of Education, led departmental colleagues in investigating the viability of integrating teaching simulations into teacher preparation courses. In this CoP they explored the features of an online teaching simulation called SimSchool. They reviewed online websites, read documents regarding the implementation of SimSchool, and interacted with a SimSchool expert. They developed assignments to pilot this simulation is selected courses.

2016-2017 Communities of Practice

Mindful Practices in Higher Education

Terri Karis, HDFS, facilitated for a second time, a CoP on mindful practices. Its goal was to establish a collaborative and supportive learning community that focused on creating a mindful classroom and/or work environment. In a community environment, a cross-disciplinary group of instructors and staff reviewed and discussed research on mindfulness from the fields of neuroscience, human development and education during bi-weekly meetings. Each member selected an aspect of their teaching or job where mindfulness-based assignments or projects could be integrated. Participants read Contemplative Practices in Higher Education by Daniel Barbezat and Mirabai Bush, as well as interacted with a variety of speakers.

NTLC Teaching Champions

Instructors engaged in targeted book discussions, interacted with speakers, and researched teaching-related issues. They also developed and assessed a course-based scholarly project, and eventually disseminated their project outcomes. This CoP provided a supportive environment for concentrated exploration of effective teaching strategies. It was facilitated by Renee Howarton, NTLC Director.

2015-2016 Communities of Practice

Critical Thinking Skills Strategies on Students’ Perceptions of the RSD Framework

Sylvia Tiala, School of Education, and Kim Zagorski, Social Sciences, co-facilitated the RSD Framework CoP. Participants learned about the framework and adapted it to one of their courses. The goal was to integrate it within class assignments that emphasized critical thinking and inquiry-based learning. Class activities, the final exam, and a research project, were redesigned to focus on processes used for inquiry and it moved away from a product-based paradigm. This strategy was heavily influenced by both Willison’s RSD Framework (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/framework/) and Brookfield’s Teaching for Critical Thinking (2012). 

Film and Film Studies

Peter Galante, Communication Technology, for a second year, facilitated this CoP and guided instructors from diverse disciplines in studying the importance of “Visual Literacy” within the context of a “global community.” An exploration of the relationship, relevance and impact of film as a primary media through which culture in terms of customs, traditions, mores, and values are learned in the contemporary world, was a central goal of this CoP. Instructors met once per month to engage in in-depth conversations about teaching film and then met a second time to host a film showing and discussion that was open to teachers and students alike. In addition, they read the book, Film Studies: An Introduction, by Ed Sikov.

Mindful Practices in Higher Education

Terri Karis, HDFS, facilitated a CoP on mindful practices. Its goal was to establish a collaborative and supportive learning community that focused on creating a mindful classroom and/or work environment. In a community environment, a cross-disciplinary group of instructors and staff reviewed and discussed research on mindfulness from the fields of neuroscience, human development and education during bi-weekly meetings. Each member selected an aspect of their teaching or job where mindfulness-based assignments or projects could be integrated. Participants read Contemplative Practices in Higher Education by Daniel Barbezat and Mirabai Bush, as well as interacted with a variety of speakers.

2014-2015 Communities of Practice

Applying the Research Skill Development Framework

Sylvia Tiala, School of Education, Kitrina Carlson, Biology, and Ann Kerber, Speech, jointly facilitated this faculty CoP. Initially, the goal was to characterize the research and skill profile of programs across campus using John Willison’s Research Skill Development Framework (RSD).  Members learned about the framework and adapted it to program needs within their colleges as they worked on using the RSD to create profiles about undergraduate research. Assistance for data collection, analysis and assessment was provided. Ultimately, facilitators realized that most of the participants found it more beneficial to apply the RSD Framework to their own courses.  

Film and Film Studies

Peter Galante, Communication Technology, facilitated this CoP and guided instructors from diverse disciplines in studying the importance of “Visual Literacy” within the context of a “global community.” An exploration of the relationship, relevance and impact of film as a primary media through which culture in terms of customs, traditions, mores, and values are learned in the contemporary world, was a central goal of this CoP. Since many educators acknowledge that the entertainment industry is responsible for producing complex and incessant cultural narratives, this experience was designed to support instructors in helping their students develop the critical thinking skills needed to understand and to effectively critique and interpret film and its representations. Instructors met once per month to engage in in-depth conversations about teaching film and then met a second time to host a film showing and discussion that was open to teachers and students alike. 

Mindful Practices in Higher Education

Brian McAlister, School of Education, facilitated a CoP on mindful practices and explored the rewards of mindfulness for instructors’ and others’ benefit. Its goal was to establish a collaborative and supportive learning community that focused on creating a mindful classroom and/or work environment. A cross-disciplinary group of instructors and staff reviewed and discussed research on mindfulness from the fields of neuroscience, human development and education during bi-weekly meetings. Each member selected an aspect of their teaching or job where mindfulness practices could be integrated. Participants read Contemplative Practices in Higher Education by Daniel Barbezat and Mirabai Bush. They developed assignments/projects that integrated mindfulness into a course they teach or within the context of a professional job responsibility. They also disseminated project outcomes.

NTLC Teaching Champions

From 2014-16, NTLC was proud to sponsor the Teaching Champions program. Renee Howarton, NTLC Director and facilitator, along with instructors from diverse disciplines engaged in targeted book discussions, interacted with select speakers, researched teaching-related issues, developed and assessed a course-based scholarly project, and disseminated it to others. The goal of this CoP was to provide a supportive environment for concentrated exploration of effective teaching strategies. 

2013-2014 Communities of Practice

Film and Film Studies

Mitch Ogden, English and Philosophy, created a CoP for instructors to engage in in-depth discussions regarding the use of films in the classroom and the pedagogy of using them to teach various subjects. Acknowledging how the entertainment industry is responsible for producing complex and incessant cultural narratives, this experience was designed to support instructors in helping their students develop the critical thinking skills needed to understand and to effectively critique and interpret film and its representations. Instructors met once per month to engage in deep, dynamic conversations about teaching film and then met a second time to host a film showing and discussion that was open to teachers and students alike. 

2012-2013 Communities of Practice

Collaborative Grant Writing

Jennifer Grant, Biology, worked with faculty members in a CoP that focused on effective grant writing. This CoP provided a supportive environment that enabled them to pursue funding options for their research and professional development interests. It explored the different stages of grant writing for both individuals and collaborative groups. It involved new and seasoned faculty alike, with participants studying grant-writing resources and interacting with speakers.

Learning Objective Based Assessment

Todd Zimmerman, Physics, worked with seven colleagues to implement some form of Learning Objectives Based Assessment (LOBA) within one of their classes. Believing that mistakes are an important part of the learning process and students should be encouraged to make mistakes and not be penalized for making them, and that students should focus on mastering material and not accumulating points, reassessment of learning was felt to be a valuable experience. This CoP guided faculty in designing discipline-specific reassessment exams that reflected demonstrated competence with course material. The goal was to motivate students to learn, rather than to jump through hoops for a grade.

2011-2012 Communities of Practice

Illustrated Novels

Jen Grant, Biology, guided instructors in developing an innovative teaching method designed to creatively engage students and allow them to  literally draw on their personal areas of interest and strengths. During the fall semester, faculty explored how illustrated novels could be adapted to their courses and developed methods for assessment. In spring 2012, they implemented the illustrated novel project into one of their courses and assessed its effect on student learning and course attitudes, as well as teacher attitudes.

2010-2014 Infusing Diversity Across the Curriculum Project

This project was offered for five years, with 46 instructors transforming their courses with the infusion of multiculturalism and diversity-based content and experiences. Throughout the history of the project, a wealth of course assignments, assessments, and student and faculty learning outcomes were developed. The disciplines of past participants have included: Social Science, Food & Nutrition, Education, Business, Engineering, Human Development and Family Studies, Marketing, Marketing Education, Psychology, Mathematics, English, Philosophy, and many others. This project has reached several hundred students across disciplines and across campus. The Infusing Diversity Across the Curriculum Project was facilitated by two faculty co-investigators, Virginia Lea (2010-17) and Holly Teuber (2010-14) and the Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center's director. It has also been the recipient of the UW System Ann Lydecker Diversity Education Award in 2012. The project was supported by UW System OPID as well as UW-Stout's Chancellor's Office, Provost Office, Diversity Leadership Team, campus Deans, and department chairs.

2011-13 Universal Design Across the Campus

Two groups of instructors committed to yearlong classroom scholarship experiences that included attended workshops and infusing universal design concepts into one or more of their courses. Through group interaction, books and resources, and guidance from Dave Edyburn, a nationally recognized Universal Design expert, they identified ways to make courses more accessible to the broadest range of student learners. Faculty members used a variety of assessment tools. Funding was provided by UW-Stout Online and NTLC. Eight of the faculty contributed their project outcomes in the writing of a book entitled, Universal Design for Learning: Teaching to All Students. The CoP was facilitated by Renee Howarton, NTLC Director.