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The Benefit of a Faculty Learning Community

Workshops and Institutes are a staple of Teaching and Learning workshops at colleges and universities. However, sometimes faculty need an environment where they can grow and nurture ideas in a receptive community or explore and develop methods over an extended period.

A Faculty Learning Community (FLC) is one such way to do this.

FLCs are groups of faculty members who meet together regularly to share ideas, reflect on teaching best practices, and create innovations based on their interactions and discussions.

A more specific definition by Newman calls them a “cross-disciplinary faculty and staff group of 6-15 members that engage in ‘an active, collaborative, year-long program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, the scholarship of teaching, and community building’” (Newman, 2017, p. 428). FLCs can be formed around themes or set goals to establish a common environment to create a community experience. The sense of community within a cohort is very important, so FLCs are typically small in numbers. Usually, a cohort is under 15 members and will meet regularly over an academic year. Of course, there can be variations of this formula.

Some of the benefits of an FLC include being a given place for faculty to collaborate and support one another, and to allow the sharing of ideas, strategies, and resources, and building relationships that may not be facilitated by the common interaction of the institution.

FLCs facilitate improved teaching practices by providing an environment for faculty to discuss and reflect on their teaching, but they also provide a formal structure and intentional engagement produced by the community to reinforce the implementation of practices and the positive impact on student learning. Because of this, FLCs have been found to enhance the likelihood of faculty-implemented better teaching practices, and for faculty to have better success in implementing learning paradigms (Tinnell, et al.).

The social aspect of an FLC can be a benefit in itself, but the potential for cross-discipline collaboration and enhanced exchange between various programs is an effective mode of professional development that can evolve from meeting to meeting to meet needs or new ideas.

FLCs have been shown to have positive feedback on student engagement and success. By improving teaching practices, faculty members can create more engaging and interactive learning environments that can help to increase student motivation and participation. Additionally, by working together, faculty members can identify and address common challenges that may be hindering success with students, such as engagement or difficulty with course material.

Participation can also help with faculty retention rates by offering ways to collaborate, faculty support, and professional development communities can promote a sense of community and belonging to faculty. This can lead to better job satisfaction, commitment to the institution, and less faculty turnover.

Collaboration, Reflection, and Development opportunities are only a few benefits of establishing or joining an FLC at your institution. If you are looking to challenge the way you teach in the classroom, or if you want to seed and grow new ideas that may benefit the student experience, a Faculty Learning Community could be the opportunity for you.


Cox, M. D. (2004). Introduction to faculty learning communities. New Directions for Teaching and Learning2004(97), 5-23.

Tinnell, T. L., Ralston, P. A., Tretter, T. R., & Mills, M. E. (2019). Sustaining pedagogical change via faculty learning community. International Journal of STEM Education6(1), 1-16.

Vescio, V., Ross, D., & Adams, A. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and teacher education24(1), 80-91.

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