Advancing the Active-Learning Culture at Purdue

The Active Learning Community of Practice (ALCoP) at Purdue University is comprised of faculty who gather to share ideas, explore active learning strategies, and discuss student outcomes. Facilitated by Susan Modlin, clinical assistant professor of nursing, ALCoP at Purdue meets monthly. Modlin’s role in this community was recently covered by the ITaP Newsroom in “Active Learning Community of Practice’s Focus This Year Is on Diversity and Inclusion.”

Rachel Fundator, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies

Rachel Fundator

Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies Information Literacy Instructional Designer Rachel Fundator has also been integral in assembling and implementing ALCoP.

Below, Fundator shares more about the community of practice.

Q. Tell me about about your role in this community.

Fundator: The ALCoP is a grassroots organization that has provided monthly opportunities for instructors across Purdue to learn about and discuss topics related to active learning since the opening of the Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC) in the fall of 2017. ALCoP is organized by one faculty member and representatives from three teaching and learning units across camps, including the Purdue University Libraries and School for Information Studies (PULSIS), the Center for Instructional Excellence (CIE), and Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT).

As a collective, we identify salient issues related to active learning and recruit people across campus who can share their insights on these particular issues with community. The organizers from PULSIS, CIE, and TLT work together with our faculty leader to facilitate connections and conversations that can help instructors reflect upon and develop their teaching practices. In this work, we are providing an informal, ongoing venue for advancing teaching and learning culture at Purdue.

Q. How do these meetings and the community help advance and transform learning at Purdue?

Fundator: Ultimately, ALCoP provides instructors with the space to connect with other instructors they may not likely cross paths with in other areas of their work. In these meetings, instructors share and learn from one another about topics related to active learning. Originally, ALCoP was created to help instructors adjust to the increased number of active-learning classrooms across campus. Together, we provided the chance for instructors to learn about the affordances of the classrooms, consider their own practices in relation to the variety of classrooms available around campus, and learn from others about how they help students learn and be engaged in these spaces.

Since the first year of ALCoP, we have expanded these monthly meetings to cover broader topics, such as active learning in online environments and gamification. Most recently, we are organizing a series of monthly meetings around the intersection of active learning, diversity, and inclusion to help instructors consider the ways in which they can engage all students in their courses. ALCoP is always responding to the needs and interests of the instructors who attend the meetings and the campus’ broader educational initiatives.

Q. What role does the PULSIS (Libraries) and PULSIS faculty and staff play in the community of practice, as well as in active learning at Purdue?

Fundator: The PULSIS has an important role to play in advancing active learning at Purdue and beyond. PULSIS faculty and staff are instructors of courses, contributors to faculty development programs like Instruction Matters Purdue Academic Course Transformation (IMPACT), representatives on faculty committees and organizations related to teaching, developers of online educational materials, overseers of the largest active-learning classroom building on campus, and researchers who engage in scholarship about the role of information in the learning process. We are ingrained in many aspects of teaching and learning, and serve as an important source of support for instructors interested in helping their students use information and data in better ways in their courses.

Our representative contributes to the organization of the community of practice, and several faculty and staff attend ALCoP sessions, where they make connections with and learn from other instructors they may not have had the opportunity to meet in other settings. PULSIS’ involvement in ALCoP is a natural extension of the way we contribute to advancing teaching and learning at Purdue through our partnerships with the CIE, TLT, and instructors.