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Due to a generous grant from the Davis Educational Foundation established by
Stanton and Emily Davis after Mr. Davis' retirement as chairman of Shaw's Supermarket, Inc.,
the CTSE offers a program for the Suffolk community called
Faculty and Professional Learning Communities (FPLCs).

What is an FPLC?

FPLCs are cross-disciplinary groups of 8-10 faculty, staff, and administrators who meet throughout the academic year to share their experiences, learn from one another, and explore the literature on the latest pedagogical and curricular trends. Each FPLC is facilitated by two people, usually a faculty member and an administrator/staff member. FPLCs also concentrate on the social aspects of building community; off-campus retreats and conferences include times for fun, and some gatherings during the year will also include family and guests. The FPLCs have a curriculum designed to address a special campus teaching and learning need, issue, or opportunity that are tied to the institutional strategic plan.

The FPLCs at Suffolk are topic-based.  Topic-based FPLCs have a curriculum designed to address a special campus teaching and learning need, issue, or opportunity. These FPLCs provide opportunities for learning across all faculty ranks and cohorts and make appropriate professional staff members available to focus on a specific theme.  For example, the topics chosen in AY2013-2014 were Hybrid Teaching & Learning, Multicultural Competencies, and Innovative & Entrepreneurial Thinking. In 2014-2015, the CTSE will fund three groups with topics proposed by facilitator applicants.

After forming, each FPLC will collaboratively identify a measurable outcome tied to their group's topic that they will work to achieve throughout the year-long community. Each FPLC will also collaboratively decide on their budget allocation (each FPLC gets a $10,000 budget for the year). Following a semester of reading and scholarly engagement (fall), each FPLC participant will be expected to propose (through an IRB application) and implement a pedagogical or curricular change in their classroom based on the theme of their FPLC in the spring semester. Possible examples of outcomes include the incorporation and evaluation of hybrid learning activities, the implementation and assessment of new diversity-based curricula, or the measurement of innovative thinking through a new survey tool.

Co-facilitators of FPLCs coordinate group members to meet every three weeks throughout the fall and spring semesters, help group members decide the best ways to use their FPLC budget, and support the design of individual classroom research projects including the submission of IRB proposals.  Facilitators also meet regularly with CTSE staff.

There are two ways to be part of a Faculty and Professional Learning Community (FPLC):

  1. As a facilitator (facilitator application)
  2. As a participant (participant application)

Facilitator Responsibilities

  • Choose a topic for your FPLC and propose it with your facilitator application to CTSE
  • Attend a Facilitator Retreat in spring semester 2014
  • Organize group meetings (including room reservation, food ordering, etc.)
  • Maintain all group receipts to be submitted to CTSE and keep track of group budget
  • Keep group in communication via email or other methods throughout the school year
  • Help group set outcomes for the year and help individuals set outcomes for their classroom research projects
  • Attend CTSE FPLC events such as assessment training and the spring celebration
  • Attend facilitator check-ins twice each semester with CTSE staff
  • Assist your group with final presentation poster for the spring celebration event

Participant Responsibilities

  • Attend all FPLC group meetings
  • Respond in a timely manner to group emails and communications
  • Set individual outcomes and design a classroom research project to be completed in spring semester of your FPLC year
  • Draft and submit an IRB proposal for your classroom research project at the end of fall semester of your FPLC year
  • Attend CTSE FPLC events such as the assessment training (fall semester) and the final celebration (spring semester)
  • Prepare a final presentation poster for the spring celebration event
  • Respond in a timely manner to periodic surveys from CTSE regarding your FPLC experience

In 2014-2015, the CTSE will fund three groups with the following topics proposed by facilitator applicants:

Experiential Education /Service Learning Gameful Learning


Facilitated by: Debra Harkins (Associate Professor, Psychology) & Carolina Garcia (Director, Center for Community Engagement)Facilitated by: Nina Hunteman (Director, Seminar for Freshmen and Associate Professor, Communication & Journalism) & Dan Newman (Program Coordinator for Online Learning, Center for Learning & Academic Success)

Facilitated by: Kathy Sparaco (Director, International Programs and Services) & Susan Nichter (Professor, Art & Design) 

This FPLC will be working to create more meaningful links between course content, pedagogy, and citizenship that you can easily integrate into any course you teach.  We will focus on developing project based and partnership models to seek, develop and implement beneficial collaborations with community based organizations. We will also explore opportunities for community based research and publication related to project based and experiential education including service learning course activities.  Additionally, we will create a pool of resources, internal and external, for Suffolk faculty to receive training on experiential learning /service learning strategies. Through this FPLC, we will cultivate leaders for the community engagement aspect of Suffolk's strategic plan by increasing understanding of current service learning/experiential education literature, particularly as it relates to best practices in service learning as pedagogy.

What activity can enchant students for hours without breaks, challenge them in unique ways, give them skills and knowledge in staggering amounts, and have them at the end say, "That was FUN! Let's do more!"? After joining the Gameful Learning Faculty and Professional Learning Community, we hope your answer will be "your class". In this FPLC, you will learn about the various motivational techniques that games use to makes them gripping through pedagogies that support exploration, motivation, engagement, and feedback. Participants will learn how to align their course goals with game design theory and utilize technology to engage students in meaningful- and perhaps thrilling- learning.

"If higher education is to stay true to its nature and purpose in serving the public good, global literacy is the imperative and internationalization the strategic priority to achieve it." (Agnew and VanBalkon 2009). This FPLC proposes to explore the multi-faceted issues surrounding campus internationalization and its relevance for Suffolk, especially within the context of the strategic plan's emphasis on multi-cultural competencies.

AY2014-2015 FPLC Application Process

February 10: FPLC Facilitator Applications Launched

March 17: FPLC Facilitator Applications Due to

March 24: FPLC Facilitator's Notified

March 31: FPLC Participant Applications Launched

April 28: FPLC Participant Applications Due to

April 29: FPLC Participant Applicants Notified

May 6th: FPLC 2014-2015 Facilitator Retreat

May 15: FPLC 2014-2015 Facilitators and Participants attend Spring Celebration

What are the criteria for selection?

FPLC participants are chosen from an applicant pool of Suffolk University full-time faculty and administrative professionals with teaching responsibilities who are interested in studying and conducting an individual classroom-based research project. Criteria for selection include: commitment to quality teaching, level of interest in the program, need, openness to new ideas, and potential for contributions to the program. 

How will I know if I have been accepted to participate in an FPLC?

Applicants will be chosen by the Center for Teaching & Scholarly Excellence staff in collaboration with FPLC facilitators who will, based on the applicant pool, attempt to create FPLCs with participants of diverse ranks and disciplines. Applicants for AY 2014-2015 will hear if they have been selected by Friday, the 25th of April, 2014.

For questions about the FPLC program, please contact Katie Linder (

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