With the completion of the Fall 2018 semester, Learning Communities will enter a new phase of planning for the future. With the completion of the 2015-2018 start-up period of course development, the 2018-19 academic year sees 24 interdisciplinary courses on offer. These courses have been developed and launched in two programs (Science and Social Science); three General Education certificates and special areas of study (Women and Gender, Peace, Reflections), and in collaboration with two co-curricular activities (SPACE and E-Week).
The institutional rationale for Learning Communities can be found in Dawson’s 2016-2021 Strategic Plan, which identifies LCs as a high-impact practice central to achieving the first goal of the plan: “Foster intentional and coordinated approaches to developing the Graduate Profile outcomes.” Learning Communities faculty, for their part, are involved in the project because they see interdisciplinary teaching and integrative learning as central to meeting the complex challenges that await our students as the 21st century advances.
Surveying completed over the pilot phase at Dawson indicates that the learning community approach can have significant positive impacts on student learning and engagement, just as the research literature suggests. And positive impacts extend to faculty as well, who report increased professional and personal satisfaction.
To build on the work already done and to map out developments over the next several years, Winter 2019 will be an intensive period of consultation and planning. Teams of teachers in three domains – Enriched Science, Social Science, and Gen Ed certificates/special areas of study – will be working on a range of challenges presented by the prospects of sustaining current LC offerings and developing new ones. These challenges include (but are not limited to)
- Optimizing existing modes of integrative learning, such as paired courses and courses integrated with co-curricular activities.
- Evaluating alternate modes of curricular integration (course clusters, for example) that might complement what we do already.
- Developing collaborative approaches to recruiting and registration across college units.
- Identifying and addressing faculty needs for professional development in interdisciplinary course design and integrative learning.
Over the course of W19, there will be a variety of opportunities to participate and contribute, for both current LC teachers and new teachers curious about getting involved in the project.
If you’d like to jump in deep, and commit time and energy to being a team leader for this next phase of Learning Communities at Dawson, now is the time to signal your interest. There are limited resources available to support release for W19 for teachers in each of three domains: Enriched Science, Social Science, and Gen Ed Certificates/special areas of study. To apply, contact Ian MacKenzie by December 7 with a message outlining 1) your rationale for getting involved in W19 as a team leader, and 2) previous involvement with the LC project or with other interdisciplinary curricular projects.