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Learning Circles

What is a Learning Circle (LC)?

A Learning Circle is a small group of faculty (4 - 10 maximum) who meet three to six times throughout the academic year to work together on a specific issue or concern related to teaching and learning. This task can be attained either face-to-face or virtually.

Why join a Learning Circle?

There are many good reasons for creating or joining a Learning Circle, such as the opportunity to:

  • collaborate with other faculty on a specific topic or project that will have an impact on student learning.
  • learn together and share ideas around a common theme or question pertaining to teaching and learning.
  • create a stronger sense of community.
  • continue to develop professionally.

How can I apply for a Learning Circle?

Complete the online application form. Funding is based on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to approval by the Center for Teaching Excellence. For further information, or to discuss a possible topic for your Circle, contact Leslie Johnson at 483-9731.

Apply for Academic Software Grant

What are some possible topics for a Learning Circle?

Learning Circles provide an opportunity to share good teaching and learning pedagogy and to teach more effectively. The listing of former Learning Circles below provides examples of the many possible topics:

  • Inquiry Based Teaching and Learning in Science
  • Reflections on Teaching: A Case Study of To Teach With Soft Eyes
  • Use of Technology in Child Development and Early Education
  • Horse Sense: The Equus of Teaching as Leading
  • Exploring Models of Writing Assessment
  • Learning from Experience
  • Critical Evaluation of Current Teaching Practices in Dance
  • Documenting Your Teaching Journey
  • Implementing the Lexical Approach
  • Using the History of Mathematics and Physics in Teaching
  • Teaching/Learning/Managing/Leading in Ensemble and Circle
  • Teaching Hybrid Classes
  • Bringing Soul Back into the Higher Education Classroom
  • Intersections in Mathematics, Music and Art
  • Globalization and the Flat World
  • Foreign Language Pedagogy
  • Teaching Writing Online
  • How to Engage and Promote Critical Thinking in Students
  • Gamifying Foreign Language Instruction

What are the guidelines for forming and maintaining a Learning Circle?

Learning Circles can be formed from August (beginning of Fall Semester) through April (end of Spring Semester) of an academic year. Once a Learning Circle is approved, the facilitator will meet with a CTE staff member to review the parameters of the Learning Circle. If the Learning Circle has not begun meeting within four to six weeks of this initial meeting with the CTE staff, the Learning Circle will be disbanded.

All faculty and staff may participate in a Learning Circle. Students may be invited to participate in a Learning Circle at the discretion of the Learning Circle faculty members.

Learning Circles can be either face-to-face or online and membership can be from the same discipline or may be cross-disciplinary.

Each Learning Circle must have a specific focal topic, issue, concern, question, project, or problem (see the examples above) that it will spend the semester and/or academic year addressing.

Each group will receive $500 from the Center for Teaching Excellence to support their activities. Please see the document, "Guidelines for Utilizing Learning Circle Funds," for specific information on appropriate ways the funds may be used.

Who leads the Learning Circle?

Someone must agree to facilitate the group. This person will arrange and announce any virtual (e.g., discussion forums, chats, etc.) and/or face-to-face meeting times, dates, and locations; manage the group's finances, i.e., the $500.00; and make any necessary arrangements for the group's activities. The facilitator is also responsible for submitting a one-page "Learning Circle Meeting Report Form" after each meeting that lists the members who attended and summarizes the meeting in a few sentences. Additionally, the facilitator is asked to write a two-to three-page final report summarizing the group’s work.

Learning Circles may be invited to share the results of their projects and discussions with colleagues and are encouraged to consider developing programs, papers, or articles for dissemination beyond LCC.

What are the responsibilities of the participants and facilitators?

Learning Circle participants are asked to:

  1. Attend all of the meetings and to stay for the entire time, if face-to-face, and/or participate in the discussions, chats, etc., if virtual.
  2. Assist in setting the Learning Circle’s goals.
  3. Prepare for each meeting by completing any "assignments."
  4. Write a one page synopsis of what was learned during the Learning Circle, and how it can be applied in their courses.

Learning Circle facilitators are responsible for:

  1. Submitting the Learning Circle’s application form.
  2. Arranging, facilitating, and focusing any face-to-face meetings and/or organizing and monitoring virtual meetings.
  3. Making sure everyone has the opportunity to provide input.
  4. Monitoring the Circle’s budget, which covers such things as: books, conference fees, etc.
  5. Writing a brief summary of the results from each meeting within three working days.
  6. Writing a two-to three-page final report summarizing the group’s work.

How can I form a Learning Circle?

Ask colleagues in your department and/or other departments if they would like to form a Learning Circle based on a teaching and learning topic you would like to pursue.

Center for Teaching Excellence
TLC Building
400 N. Capitol, Suite 324
Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: (517) 483-1680
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