Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Elliott Hall, Room 200A
275 Varner Drive
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4485
(location map)
(248) 370-2751

Learning Communities

What Is a Learning Community?

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.  For more details on the Learning Community structure and process, see the More Information link at the bottom of the page.

Participate in the 2018-2019 Learning Communities
This year's Learning Communities are now available, which include four exciting opportunities for faculty and staff (listed below). Sign up to join the LC, and the facilitator will reach out to you in the summer or fall to plan the possibilities. For questions, please contact CETL Director Judy Ableser (

Supporting Students' Emotional and Behavioral Health
Facilitators: Cindy Carver, Teacher Development & Educational Studies ( and Katie Jostock, CAS Advising (

This Learning Community (a continuation of last year's LC) will

  • help faculty strengthen their understanding of and response to the unique mental and emotional needs of OU students
  • establish connections among participants and campus student support services
  • apply principles discussed to interactions with students.

As mental, emotional, and learning needs of North American college students continue to rise annually and often exacerbate during the formative years of 18 and older, it is imperative for all in higher education to develop supportive interventions within the classroom to cultivate student success.

Open to: Faculty/Staff/Grad Students

Creating and Sustaining Productivity as an Early-Career Scholar
Facilitator: T.J. Jourian, Organizational Development (
This Learning Community will:
  • form a support and accountability group
  • create and practice a productive and sustainable scholarship practice
  • discuss and address shared challenges in scholarly endeavors
In order to thrive in academia, faculty need to maintain scholarly productivity. However, without intentional planning and strategies – particularly during the academic year – the pressures of teaching and service on our time make this harder to sustain. Staff who see themselves as scholar-practitioners feel those time pressures even more so, given their daily jobs and the need to carve out time outside of their regular responsibilities. This Learning Community will bring together faculty and staff to create a community willing to learn together and support each other through their espoused scholarly goals.

Alliance for International Student Support
Facilitator: Melissa Vervinck, ESL Institute (

This Learning Community will

  • create a network of educators from a variety of departments to discuss and explore ways to foster a positive learning environment for both domestic and international students
  • explore and develop an understanding of the various cultural and educational backgrounds of the international student population at Oakland University
  • develop teaching techniques and practices for working with culturally diverse population as well as with English learners
The goal of this learning community is to develop a global perspective in order to better understand our world, our students and ourselves. As we bring international students to our campus and the world in general becomes more interconnected, we commit ourselves to providing an environment of engagement and enrichment, in which international students may thrive and domestic students, as well, may benefit. Through exploration and expansion of our cultural knowledge and culturally responsive teaching practices, this learning community seeks to facilitate the integration of international students into the Oakland University community and to provide every opportunity for their academic, personal and occupational success.

Open to: Faculty/Staff/Grad Students

Promoting Student Success in Gateway Courses
Facilitator: Krista Malley, Office of Student Success (

This Learning Community will

  • provide cross functional discussions about gateway courses (large, introductory or foundation courses)
  • share success practices from faculty using strategies in gateway courses
  • discover the latest promising practices for student persistence in gateway courses

Open to: Faculty/Staff/Grad Students


More About Learning Communities and Proposals

Proposing an OU Learning Community

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
Back to the top of the page.

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
Back to the top of the page.

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
Back to the top of the page.

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.
Back to the top of the page.

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
Back to the top of the page.

What is required if I want to propose an OU Learning Community?
  • When the call opens, fill out an application. Calls normally open each winter and are due at the end of March.
  • 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.