Learning Communities and Inquiry Projects

The Office of Organizational Learning and Development is pleased to offer semester-long communities as ways to collaborate with colleagues on in-depth professional development projects. Inquiry projects for 2022-23 will be announced before fall semester.

Past Learning Communities

Faculty Inquiry Project: Creative Collaboration in the Classroom

This inquiry project invites faculty interested in exploring creative innovation through collaboration with other schools, departments, and community members in the classroom. We will look at different ways to engage students by providing structural and experiential learning opportunities using different cross-disciplinary techniques. Participants will be encouraged to experiment with various collaborative endeavors in their classrooms and share their successes and challenges throughout the semester. MUS Teaching Scholar Michael Cassens from the School of Visual and Media Arts will facilitate this group and offer support to provide meaningful opportunities and pathways for our students.

Faculty Inquiry Project: Taking the Next Steps to Successful Active Learning 

This inquiry project invites faculty who are already implementing student-centered active learning to come together to elevate their active learning practices. In a supportive setting, participants will be encouraged to share any issues with implementation, ask for feedback on lesson plans or class structure design, explore new strategies and techniques, and learn from one another as we take the next steps of making active learning an integral and efficient part of our courses.  

Bonnie Spence from the Department of Teaching and Learning will facilitate this group and offer support as we work together to improve the success of our students through active learning.

Virtual Reality Inquiry Project: Integrating this Exciting Technology into Current Curriculum 

Participants will be asked to identify learning outcomes that may positively benefit from an immersive visual experience. Think of traveling inside a cell, walking through a famous museum , being totally immersed in another culture and having to understanding their language... the sky is the limit. During the semester we will identify the proper software to address your classroom outcome and design effective assessments. We will be working with the Oculus 2 headsets and currently have 18 of them to serve an entire class synchronously. MUS Teaching Scholar Katie Holick from the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and the Neuroscience program will be leading this group. 

Faculty Inquiry Project: Increasing Transparency in Teaching  

Have your students ever asked what the point of an assignment is or how it relates to their lives? Join faculty interested in exploring methods of teaching focused on how students are learning course content, and clarifying why instructors design their learning experiences as they do and how students will use these learning experiences in their lives after graduation. Such approaches have been shown to support both student engagement and retention. This FIP will begin with a student-instructor panel on making assignments clear and relevant. Then, we will provide peer feedback on course assignments and examine concepts from both transparent teaching and problem-centered learning assignments. MUS Teaching Scholar Ginger Collins from the School of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences will facilitate this group and offer support as we work together to promote student inclusion, engagement, and retention through transparent teaching.

Nurture New STEM Scholars: Mentor Your Graduate Students for Success and Wellbeing 

How do you define success in your mentoring practice, both for your students and for yourself? Does sustained success in academia depend on wellbeing? Participants in this 3-part workshop series will acquire skills that will allow them to support their students (and themselves!) through the rigors of an academic STEM program. Workshops will include research presentations, case studies, and dynamic discussion oriented toward engaging faculty with practical, applied skills in active listening, effective communication, and de-stigmatizing mental health discussions. 

Individual Session Titles:

  1. Making Connections, Building Context: Insights into Graduate Student Mental Health and Wellbeing
  2. “I Don’t Have Time for this Workshop!” Making Space for Faculty and Student Wellbeing;
  3. Be the Mentor Your Students Need and Want: Skills and Strategies for Successful Communication with Your Graduate Students 

Inquiry Project on Adaptive Leadership

Apply to join a group of current and emerging campus leaders to explore approaches to leadership through readings and discussions. This inquiry project will focus on leading from the middle of an organization and ways to find partners and build coalitions to move efforts forward. Topics will include adaptive leadership, emotional intelligence, leading through change, and effective communication. Small group peer consultations will be a key part of the project. Discussions will be based on common readings; 1-2 hours of preparatory work is expected for each session. 

MUS Teaching Scholars Learning Communities on Equity-Minded Pedagogies

The Montana University System (MUS) Teaching Scholars program identifies and celebrates those faculty whose commitment to teaching and learning exemplifies the kind of high-quality educational experiences that have become a signature part of public higher education in Montana. Every year, a select group of faculty (tenure and non-tenure track) are awarded and recognized as MUS Teaching Scholars for their exemplary contributions to teaching and learning at MUS campuses. As part of the MUS’s ongoing effort to achieve more equitable educational outcomes, this year’s MUS Teaching Scholars program will recognize and support faculty who are committed to addressing equity gaps through equityminded teaching. MUS Teaching Scholars program will support faculty as they advance teaching and learning practices, curriculum, praxis, and the scholarship of teaching and learning specifically designed to address systemic inequities and injustices in the classroom.

Faculty Inquiry Project: Peer Consultation on Implementing Active Learning Approaches

Join a group of faculty peers who are working to implement student-centered active learning techniques as they work through teaching dilemmas they have been facing in this year of challenging teaching. Discuss how to improve outcomes from research-based classroom practice and learn from others what has worked well and how they have adjusted to unexpected outcomes. Trainers from the Mobile Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching (MoSI) will be on hand to share their insights and offer new resources. 

Global Learning Community

Connect with globally-minded faculty and staff from all across campus as part of a small learning community this spring. MUS Teaching Scholar Sara Schroeder, an instructor at the English Language Institute, will facilitate meetings in which staff and faculty share ideas on creating more intercultural exchange at University of Montana. Meetings will likely be on Wednesday afternoons. 

Faculty Inquiry Project: Integrating Active Learning Practices into General Education Courses

Join a group of your faculty peers to explore ways to engage students in general education courses through active learning techniques. Participants in this faculty inquiry group will survey research findings on teaching and learning and apply those findings to their general education classes. Through discussions of methodology, course design, and learning goals, you will exchange ideas and resources with peers from across the university community. An opportunity for introducing new techniques, receiving supportive feedback, and crafting creative teaching approaches. Tobin Miller Shearer, History Professor and MUS Teaching Scholar, will facilitate the group and offer support as you build and develop your classroom instruction. This FIP will meet five times on Wednesday or Friday mornings. 

Faculty Inquiry Project: “It seemed like a good idea at the time” – When active learning meets the reality of the classroom

Join a group of faculty peers who are already implementing student-centered active learning techniques as they work through the missteps, unexpected student responses, and other less-than-perfect classroom outcomes from research-based classroom practice. Learn from others what has worked well and how they have adjusted to unexpected outcomes. Rick Darnell, Instructor, Mathematical Sciences, and Mentor from the Mobile Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching (MoSI), will facilitate this group focused on trying research-based teaching and transforming past stumbles into future successes. This FIP will be meeting 6 times on Tuesdays from 3:30-5.

Faculty Inquiry Project: Further developing UM's math co-requisite courses and curriculum

This inquiry project invites faculty from UM's Mathematical Sciences Department and Missoula College to come together to further develop our math co-requisite courses and curriculum as we scale them in accordance with current UM priorities. We will discuss continuing to develop the course curriculum using high impact practices based on three underlying themes: sstudent capability, purpose of materials, and student belonging. This inquiry project will be facilitated by Lauren Fern, Lecturer, Mathematical Sciences, and Student Success Coordinator. Lauren is also a MUS Teaching Scholar and Mentor for the Mobile Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching (MoSI)