Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
April 4, 1997

Learn about learning communities at symposium

by Anne Dolan
Strategies for expanding Iowa State's learning communities program will be the focus of a workshop for faculty and staff Friday, April 11. "Learning Together: A Symposium on Learning Communities" will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude by 2 p.m. in 171 Scheman. It is sponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence and is open to all faculty, administrators and staff with a role in curriculum design, academic advising, student services, teaching or student recruitment and retention.

In learning communities, students register for a cluster of courses. Faculty offer cooperative class exercises to explore issues that cut across the curriculum. Academics and social interaction also can be combined in the students' living environment, whether on- or off-campus.

"We seem to be in agreement that we want to move ahead; we're just not sure how that will happen," said Steve Richardson, director of the teaching center. "It will involve a commitment of funds, people and other reources."

To lend some direction to the discussion, Richardson has invited three faculty members from other universities to share experiences. They are Steven Bauman, a faculty fellow associated with the Bradley Learning Community at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Marty Townsend, director of the Campus Writing Program at the University of Missouri, Columbia; and Daniel Tompkins, a faculty fellow with the Learning Communities Program at Temple University, Philadelphia. Although Temple largely is a commuter campus, 80 percent of Temple freshmen are in learning communities. Richardson said he has asked the visitors to talk, as a panel, about what works and hasn't worked at their schools. In an afternoon breakout session, each will talk about his or her speciality: writing as a unifying element in learning communities (Townsend); diversity issues in building learning communities (Tompkins); and tying math skills to other areas of the curriculum and residence-based learning communities (Bauman).

Experienced faculty and staff from ISU's young learning communities program also will participate in the symposium. They are assistant registrar Laura Doering, associate professor of English Marty Graham and professor of biology Warren Dolphin.

The symposium is free and requires no advance registration.

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