Communities of Practice

Is there an area of teaching and learning that you would like to discuss in more depth?  Are you curious about how you can use high impact practices or other evidence-based learning techniques in your classroom? What about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)?  Would you like to discuss and share your ideas with others who share similar interests?  That’s what Communities of Practice (COPs) are all about.  The Teaching and Learning Forum is excited to provide an opportunity for you to participate in a community of practice in the upcoming year.  

What is a Community of Practice?

A Community of Practice is a group of 8-12 people who share a common concern, passion about a topic and come together with a facilitator to deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting with each other on an ongoing basis (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002 p. 4).  At Weber State, these communities of practice are groups of faculty and staff who commit to regularly scheduled sessions on a focus area in teaching and learning followed by actions such as planning and trying out the techniques discussed in the group.  Your community will provide a supportive environment where members can experiment with new approaches to teaching and learning, share successes and challenges, and/or engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) through collaborative research projects and dissemination of instructional practices and tools. 

Sign-up here.

Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, & William Snyder, 2002).Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

What are the goals of a Faculty Learning Community?

  • To promote faculty interest in teaching and learning, especially for undergraduate students.
  • To create collaborative spaces in which faculty connect with colleagues across disciplines.
  • To promote the exploration and study of theoretical and practical perspectives on teaching and learning.
  • To pilot short term or semester-long activities in classes or in our broader work with students.
  • To increase faculty capacity to apply evidence-based research to undergraduate education.
  • To cultivate reflective practitioners by reflecting upon individual and collective experiences.

Participant Outcomes:

Participants in learning communities should be able to demonstrate at least two of the following:

  • Integrate research-based, learner-centered, and/or inclusive pedagogies in their teaching.  Related activities could include reviewing and revising course materials such as syllabi, learning outcomes, and class activities.
  • Leverage collaborative relationships with colleagues across disciplines on topics related to learning-centered instructional innovation and student success.  Related activities could include sharing experiences, successes, and challenges with colleagues in the learning community; providing feedback on observations and/or research design and implementation.
  • Disseminate practices and scholarship with the broader teaching community at and beyond WSU.  Related activities might include sharing work through presentations, sharing instructional resource materials, and/or presenting findings at a TLF event, an external venue or through publication.

What are the Benefits of Joining a Community of Practice?

  • Participants become members of a community of peers with shared interests in teaching and learning at WSU.
  • The community provides an inclusive space where members share experiences, ideas and strategies about teaching; experiment with evidence-based practices; build skills; engage in SoTL research; and reflect on their roles as educators. 
  • Each learning community is given a $500 budget to be used as the group determines will best meet the needs of the group (ie, books, supplies, lunches, etc.).
  • Members of learning communities can include their participation as professional development efforts to improve teaching on tenure and promotion documents and faculty annual reviews.  When you make changes to your teaching based upon your participation in a faculty learning community, you can explain those changes as innovations in the aforementioned documents.
  • Participation in a Faculty Learning Community is part of the “Ten Before Tenure” initiative.

Community of Practice Expectations

  • COP members will actively prepare for, attend, and participate in community meetings.  (COPs will likely meet once or twice a month, depending on the group and its goals.  The semester schedule will be set during the first meeting).
  • Each group will submit an executive summary and reflective analysis of their COP participation by June 1, 2018.
  • COPs will be expected to share their learning, activities, and their reflections at the TLF Symposium during Spring Semester.
  • Each COP will also provide some sort of deliverable that can be shared with a larger audience (either at WSU or an external venue). For example, you could select one or more of the following options:
    • Provide instructional resource materials (instructional tools, teaching strategies, videos,  annotated bibliographies,  presentational materials, etc.) on the topic of their COP for the larger teaching community at WSU.
    • Present their work at a conference venue beyond WSU.
    • Publish the findings of their work (through portfolios, white papers, academic journals, etc.)

2018-2019 Communities of Practice



Facilitator: Becky Jo Gesteland

This community of practice provides faculty and staff with an introduction to community engaged learning. Members of this COP will explore community engagement pedagogies, student reflection design, reciprocal partnership building, community research models, community project design, and a variety of additional topics. Members will also network with community partners.

This is a great opportunity for faculty looking to incorporate community engagement into their classes and those seeking publications with a community tie. Staff involved as adjuncts and with student leaders will also benefit from this introductory class as the group brainstorms ideas together.



Facilitators: Barrett Bonella and Wendy Fox Kirk

This COP is designed for faculty who have taught or would like to teach a community-engaged learning class, and who want to deepen their knowledge, improve their practice, and strengthen their community-engaged learning outcomes.  Participants will explore new ideas regarding reflection, course integration, motivating students, community partnerships, and evaluating learning.



Facilitators: Tom Mathews & Melina Alexander

The Inclusive Excellence COP will support faculty efforts to address equity and diversity at the course level, in the context of ongoing campus initiatives around inclusive excellence.  Participants will assess resources on inclusion in the classroom and apply principles of inclusive excellence to their own pedagogical and course design choices.



Facilitator: Kathryn MacKay

How can faculty engage in mindfulness practices for better health and well-being? How can faculty incorporate mindfulness into their teaching so that students' overall health and well-being are enhanced? This COP will explore with other faculty how they might integrate mindfulness practices in their teaching through looking at mindfulness as a practice in itself and as a pedagogical tool, and exploring methods for utilizing mindfulness in our classes.



Facilitator: Tim Herzog

POGIL stands for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning. It is an active learning pedagogy that focuses on the development of process skills like critical thinking and communication (sometimes called soft skills) while learning content through inquiry based activities structured around a learning cycle of exploration, concept invention and application.  If you want more info about POGIL, check out  The group will meet every week from 2:30-4:00Pm in the fall for POGIL workshop sessions and then all support each other as we implement POGIL in our spring classes.



Facilitator: Anne Bialowas

The goal of this group is to not add one more meeting or thing to do, but rather share ideas of how to be more efficient as we juggle multiple responsibilities in our professional and personal lives.  The desired outcome is for members to share ideas, technologies (apps, for example), grading techniques and practices from their own departments and/or colleges to create efficiency and a strong work/life balance.



Facilitators: Alex Lancaster and Heather Chapman

Have you ever wondered why one teaching strategy is effective and another isn’t? You can research that question and many others through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)Community of Practice. SoTL uses discovery, reflection, and evidence-based methods to research effective teaching and student learning. Members of this Cop will be part of a collaborative research effort focusing on 1-2 SoTL projects decided upon by the group or pursue individual research projects.  The desired outcome is publication of the group’s SoTL research.



Facilitator: Alice Mulder, Carla Trentelman, T. Grant Lewis, and Christy Call

The Community of Practice for Sustainability will develop and pilot a new faculty program this year with the goal of designing a model for long-term curriculum planning and teaching initiatives centered in sustainability across the WSU campus. Participating faculty may apply to have their courses listed with the (currently proposed) SUS designator.

The facilitators of this COP include four faculty members who received training from the Sustainability Practices and Research Center (SPARC) in effective curriculum development models that have been used in universities across the country.  Meetings of the Sustainability COP during the year will include:

  • Definitions of sustainability, in its most expansive sense;
  • Intersectional points of connection and relevance across the curricular landscape;
  • Connections to our place: campus, community and region;
  • Occasional brief content area presentations (particularly relevant to our locality/region);
  • Occasional outdoor place-based activities;
  • Reflection;
  • Dialogue and sharing of resources with fellow faculty from an array of disciplines across campus; and
  • Time to learn and implement with colleagues a step-wise process to help include sustainability in some way into your own course (the articulation of learning outcomes, the collection of resources and strategies for assessment).



Facilitator: TBD

Focus on ways that technology can breathe new life into your classroom. Whether you teach online, face-to-face, or both, you’ll discuss ways to enhance everyday teaching and learning as well as engage with your students.  This COP will explore the use of innovative technologies that meet your teaching objectives and learning outcomes, and help you connect more deeply with your students.



Facilitators: Kristin Hadley and Adam Johnston

Explore the use of evidence-based teaching and learning approaches and implement them into your own classroom. This COP will focus on using “intentionally designed educational activities” that contribute to students success in the classroom.



Facilitator: Sylvia Newman

Together we will workshop ways to help your students write more and write better in ways that will increase student engagement and won't make your job more difficult!

Click here to sign up for a community of practice.