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Instructor Roles

Courses in a learning community are intentionally grouped, with the goal of connecting the content of individual courses and making it more cohesive and meaningful to students. For instance, when English 106 is linked with History 151, reading and papers in the English course can shed light on the work in the history class, while the history instructor can make use of a variety of approaches in which writing supports the learning of content. To make this happen, instructors in the two classes collaborate as they prepare both their individual syllabi and community plans.

The collaboration should apply both to curriculum and to pedagogy. Instructors should keep in touch about student problems such as attendance and incomplete work. They also should collaborate in order to keep heavy assignments from falling due on the same day.

Communication between learning community instructors - about students, about syllabus changes, about how their courses are evolving - is extremely worthwhile. Beyond this, learning community instructors have been known to hold joint classes or class activities, develop joint writing assignments, or trade classes for a day or so. In addition, a joint effort at tracking student learning gains could be very rewarding.

Once the term begins, instructors have to juggle many responsibilities, so it is worthwhile for them to make preparations for their learning community before the beginning of the semester. E-mail aids communication once the term begins.

Faculty teaching styles need not dovetail completely in a learning community, but a clear initial statement about faculty roles is in the interest of both you and your students. Students should know that their instructors will be working as a team. They should also not be allowed to play their instructors against each other in pursuit of higher grades or lighter assignments.