Faculty Communities of Teaching Scholars (FaCTS)
From 2009 to 2018, the Faculty Communities of Teaching Scholars (FaCTS) initiative was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support faculty in planning and implementing innovative curriculum and/or pedagogical projects over the course of an academic year.
The theme of FaCTS for the 2017-2018 academic year was "Making Knowledge Public Using Educational Technology."
Making knowledge public for students improves engagement by transitioning the learning process from one perceived as dyadic (instructor-learner) to a process that is community-focused and externalized (instructor-learner-community/public). Jay (2010)1 argues that the future of liberal arts education is reliant on two crucial innovations in pedagogy: project-based learning that is implemented in an organized and engaging way and incorporation of technology that conscientiously incorporates digital literacy and community development. Increasingly, community engagement through digital learning is envisioned globally as well as locally. For example, Wiki Edu has taken the idea of making knowledge public by partnering instructors in higher education with Wikipedia staff and experts to facilitate student contributions to Wikipedia content. Students move from writing and creating for the instructor to doing so with an intended audience of all Wikipedia users. “Students make the leap from passive learning to an active expression of knowledge. They rephrase and revise their understanding as they work. They put it into their own words, they make it theirs, and pass it on. In the end, they’ve shared real knowledge with the world. But they’ve also made that knowledge distinctly their own” (wikiedu.org/changing/students).
The theme of FaCTS for the 2016-2017 academic year was "Inverted Teaching & Learning." Inverted teaching and learning is not a new teaching technique; however, flipping the classroom has emerged as a new trend in part due to publications in venues such as the Chronicle of Higher Education. There are many models of inverted teaching. All of them emphasize active learning with the goal of facilitating higher order thinking.
The theme of FaCTS for the 2015-2016 academic year was "Sustainability Across the Curriculum." Sustainability as a concept has broad ramifications far beyond classic environmentalism. True sustainability involves ecology, economics, politics and culture. It is really about education in the deepest sense, with applications in every discipline. Teaching sustainability requires connecting to some of the most critical issues currently facing humanity.
The theme of FaCTS for the 2014-2015 academic year was "Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning." Interdisciplinary teaching goes beyond merely team-teaching. It involves an intentional effort to integrate content, theories, principles and/or techniques from more than one academic discipline simultaneously. Ideally, the disciplines represented are related through a central theme, issue, problem, experience, etc. (Jacobs, 1989). In The Heart of Higher Education (2010), Zajonc recommends that, when attempting to teach an interdisciplinary course, "faculty need to exemplify integrative understanding through the ways in which they connect diverse fields into a comprehensive integrated whole." This is what FaCTS hopes to accomplish.
The theme of FaCTS for the 2013-2014 academic year was "Engaging Students in Online Courses." According to Dr. B. Jean Mandernach (Associate Professor of Psychology and Online Learning at Park University since 2001), an online course promotes optimal student cognitive engagement if it:
- integrates active learning environments with authentic learning tasks;
- fosters a personal connection with the class (teacher-student as well as student- student); and
- facilitates the process of learning in an online environment.
Given the special circumstances of online learning (e.g., self discipline, motivation), high quality online, hybrid, or blended courses require that faculty pay close attention to engaging students from the beginning.
The theme of FaCTS for the 2012-2013 academic year was "Teaching for Social Responsibility." According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities social responsibility includes:
- Civic knowledge and engagement (local and global)
- Intercultural knowledge
- Ethical reasoning and action
- Foundation and skills for lifelong learning anchored through active involvement with diverse communities and real-world challenges.
The mission and tradition of HBCUs in general and Xavier in particular encourage faculty to explore issues of social responsibility in the classroom.
The theme of FaCTS for the 2011-2012 academic year was "Promoting Critical Thinking and Self-Authorship in the First Two Years." Baxter Magolda defines self-authorship as "the ability to collect, interpret, and analyze information and reflect on one's own beliefs in order to form judgments." Self-authorship is associated with critical analysis, independent learning, development of mature relationships, consideration of multiple perspectives, and cognitive maturity — all skills that we hope to encourage in our beginning students to enhance their academic and social success at Xavier. With an eye on increasing student retention, this theme allowed faculty members to plan, implement, and evaluate course projects designed to promote the development of critical thinking and self-authorship.
The theme of FaCTS for the 2010-2011 academic year was "Fostering Active Reading." This theme allowed faculty members to plan, implement and evaluate projects designed to promote active reading, improve students' reading skills, and/or encourage students to become engaged readers both inside and outside the classroom.
The theme of FaCTS for the 2009-2010 academic year was "Xavier as a Site of Global Citizenship." This theme encouraged faculty members to plan, implement and evaluate projects designed to enhance global awareness in our students.
1 Jay, Gregory. 2010. "The Engaged Humanities: Principles and Practices of Public Scholarship and Teaching" Imagining America paper 15