Spring 2017 Update: New Learning Community Courses

Work on new Learning Community courses has continued through the duration of the Winter 2017 term.   In April, some teachers were putting the final touches on one-page course pitches that will be used to recruit students for F17 and W18.

Course pitches are distributed to students by way of MIO mailings, with groups of eligible students identified by program progression charts.  Big thank you’s to Michele Pallett (Advising) and Max Jones (OAD) for their input on and ongoing management of recruiting.

Browse the recruiting pitches below:

Counting the Costs: Social Justice in Canada?  (Quantitative Methods (300- 360-DW) + Canadian History (330-201 DW)




(D)écrire la beauté: History & Art in the 20th Century  (330-314-DW: Applied 20th Century + Français niveau 3 bloc B 602-BXK-DW)



Peace 365  (365-BWP-DW Complementary – Contemporary Issues)




Nature Revisited (Phys Ed 109-103 (Intensive) Nature Retreat + English 603-103 Literary Themes: Into the Wild – Writing about Wilderness and Ecology)



For courses that can bypass recruiting because they are filled in program course allocation, work has been advancing on class schedules and descriptions for common course outlines – see for example the description for

First Choice Science: General Biology II (101-BZE-06) & Organic Chemistry I (202-BZF-05).



And finally, the promotional SPACE video Lab Stories will give students a sense of the design process at the core of the new Complementary – Contemporary Issues (365-BWP-DW): How to Build Things that Matter.



In all, ten new Learning Community courses will be launching in Fall 2017 and Winter 2018.  Faculty interested in getting involved in the next phase of course development should visit the Call for Proposals for new projects, to be developed over F17/W18.


Call for Proposals: New Learning Community Projects F17-W18

Faculty interested in integrative learning and collaborative curriculum development are invited to submit a proposal to participate in the Fall 2017-Winter 2018 phase of Dawson’s Learning Community project.  Proposals must be submitted to Maxwell Jones (OAD) by Thursday, May 18, and should be kept to a single page that addresses in specifics the criteria below.  6-7 teachers may receive release for F17 or W18, depending on the distribution of ECQ funding and the proposed launch dates for pilot courses.  Department chairs, program coordinators and Deans must be informed of your application.  Proposals are reviewed by Ian MacKenzie (Project Lead), Chris Adam and Diane Gauvin. Continue reading

Stories of Shaughnessy Village W2017 – RM & Intro to Geography

When your back-to-back RM and Intro to Geography classes have you doing February field walks in the Shaughnessy Village neighbourhood – sometimes you have to warm up with some Korean dumplings or soup!

Read the course pitch for Mark Beauchamp and Geoff Pearce’s RM and Geography course pairing in the Social Science program, and don’t hesitate to contact Geoff or Mark with questions about what they are doing and how they are doing it.

W2017 LC Course Development in Progress

The Fall 2016 Call for Proposals for new Learning Communities courses yielded 11 different proposals, involving 18 teachers from 12 different departments.

Five projects involving ten teachers (seven with course release) are being supported for the W2017 semester.  The group meets every other week in the CoLab to share their progress in course development, and learn about new tools and strategies for paired courses and integrative learning.

Learn about each project team from excerpts from their proposals below Continue reading

Resist Violence Exhibition – December 4, 2016

Pictures from the final exhibition of student multi-media projects from Pat Romano and Kim Simard’s Humanities & Cin-Comm paired courses.  Amazing work & high spirits made for a fantastic culminating event for this Women’s & Gender Studies/Peace Certificate learning community.  Hats off to students and profs Pat Romano (Humanities) and Kim Simard (Cin-Comm).

Continue reading

Call for Proposals: Learning Communities W2017

Faculty interested in integrative learning and collaborative curriculum development are invited to submit a brief proposal to participate in the W2017 phase of Learning Community project.  Proposals must be submitted to Ian MacKenzie or Chris Adam by Monday, December 5, and should be kept to a single page addressing the criteria below.  Up to 6 teachers may receive release for W2017, depending on ECQ funding.

Continue reading

Meet-up for W2017 Collaborative Course Design


Dawson’s Learning Communities project is looking for teachers interested in working over the W2017 term on the collaborative design of interdisciplinary team-taught courses.

If you’d like to participate, this pizza-powered meet-up on Wednesday November 17, 2.30-4pm in the CoLab 3F.43 is an opportunity to

  • Hear more about the learning community model from teachers leading pilot courses this fall.
  • Meet other teachers interested in working together on integrative learning and problem-based courses.
  • Grab a slice of pizza.

Continue reading

Fall Snapshots: Learning Communities in Progress

Three learning community pilot pairings (7 courses) are in progress this fall.  Here’s a glimpse of what’s happening in the classrooms, and what the teachers are saying about it.


The Journeys cluster of English, Humanities and Academic Skills is headed by Susan Briscoe, Anjali Choksi and Michelle Smith.

“Our focus since our planning phase for Journeys has been on relationship-building, both between the college and Indigenous communities and in the classroom. While there have been challenges, we have really enjoyed this experience of working so closely with students and collaborating with colleagues from other disciplines and institutions. We are learning so much!” –  Susan Briscoe and Anjali Choksi

Continue reading

Learning Communities at Long Island University-Brooklyn: A Conversation with Deborah Mutnick

On Wednesday May 11, the LC faculty teams had a Skype meeting with Deborah Mutnick from Long Island University, where Dr. Mutnick is the Director of the LIU-Brooklyn Learning Communities program.  LIU-Brooklyn serves a diverse, urban and suburban student population, with an emphasis on professional programs in the health sciences and business.

LC LIU image

The LIU-Brooklyn LC program was initiated in 2010, in parallel with revisions to core curriculum requirements and efforts to increase student retention.  Designed and led by faculty, the LIU LC program now features the participation of 30 teachers each semester.  While their start-up phase required a lot of effort both in academic planning and advertising the nature of LCs to new students, now hundreds of students complete core requirements in the context of themed course pairings, pairings that draw on Brooklyn and Manhattan as a rich social, cultural and historical backdrop for experiential and integrative learning.

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Designing Assignments for Integrative Learning

Pacific-chorus-frog-and-northwestern-salamander.jpg.638x0_q80_crop-smartAs the winter term comes to an end, the LC teams have been designing integrative assignments for their paired courses.  While each individual course still proceeds via its own sequence of learning activities and assignments, at the centre of the paired course endeavour is a shared assignment that is introduced and worked on in both classes.

The integrative assignment should challenge students to make connections between the varying materials of each course; to apply different disciplinary concepts and methodologies to complex issues and problems; to synthesize and evaluate outcomes; and to reflect on the process.  We’ve drawn on several resources to guide the design of these assignments, from the Washington Center’s heuristic Designing Purposeful and Intentional Integrative Learning to Boix Mansilla and Duraising’s Framework for Assessing Integrative Learning.

Each teaching pair now has a tentative idea of their integrative assignments.  Here are their synopses: Continue reading