Interdisciplinary Professional Learning Communities: Support for Faculty Teaching Blended Learning

Laura Terry
Grand Canyon University

Maria Zafonte
Grand Canyon University

Sherman Elliott
Grand Canyon University

In higher education, despite disciplinary expertise and teaching experience, faculty who are asked to implement curriculum into new modalities, particularly ones that rely heavily on technolo-gy such as blended learning, may be intimidated and overwhelmed. However, instructors may be more willing to explore new modalities if they feel that support is available. Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, support instructors embarking on teaching in new modalities and and us-ing new technology to support and expand their instruction. The current study looks at how a PLC was utilized to support faculty who piloted a blended learning model of course instruction. Seven faculty members from different disciplines shared their perceptions of how PLC meetings affected their ability to teach in the blended learning modality. Various sources of qualitative data, including surveys, interviews, and meetings notes, were analyzed to see the ways in which the faculty mem-bers viewed and utilized the PLC. Faculty reported that the PLC provided support, new ideas, and enhanced teaching and learning outcomes. The interdisciplinary nature of this collaborative group was particularly helpful in allowing instructors to expand their pedagogical practices within this new modality. They also felt more comfortable in their own ability to teach in this modality after receiving feedback from their peers who were also teaching blended learning sections for the first time. This preliminary study provides support that PLCs can assist in shaping faculty skills and boost interdisciplinary collaboration when faculty adapt their teaching to a new pedagogical modali-ty, such as blended.

Copyright © 2019, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education