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Title: Understanding how facilitators adapt to needs of STEM faculty in online learning communities: a case study
Abstract Background

Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) and Faculty Online Learning Communities (FOLCs) are ways to support STEM faculty implementing research-based curricula. In these communities, faculty facilitators take on the role of sharing expertise and promoting discussion. However, as members gain more experience, their needs change from addressing logistical to pedagogical issues. Hence, facilitators need to change their practices in response. However, there is little research on the mechanisms of faculty facilitator change. In this article, we provide a case study of a specific STEM FOLC facilitator and demonstrate the usefulness of a teacher change model to investigate facilitator change.

Results

Guided by our adaptation of the InterconnectedModelofProfessionalGrowth(IMPG), we conducted interviews with FOLC facilitators, and selected a case facilitator who reported changes in facilitation goals and strategies over time. The model helped us identify specific areas of change and potential mechanisms for these changes. Using themes of change identified in the case facilitator interview, we developed coding schemes to analyze his FOLC meetings over a 2-year period. We found empirical evidence from multiple data sources, including FOLC meetings and facilitator reflections, that supported the change themes, including: changing his role as an “expert” by sharing his own expertise less and drawing on others’ expertise more frequently, changing his response to members’ comments by jumping in to answer less frequently and withholding his own responses more often to encourage member sharing, and a change in group discussions towards less logistical and more pedagogical conversations.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that the IMPG can be fruitfully adapted to study facilitator change. A diagrammatic representation of the IMPG provides a description the types of change the case facilitator experienced and the factors that supported those changes. We discuss how the methodology used to analyze facilitator actions in FOLC group meetings may be useful to study other types of professional growth. Finally, because our analytical model allowed us to identify mechanisms of facilitator change, we describe the implications and provide suggestions to support facilitators in other faculty community groups.

 
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NSF-PAR ID:
10373098
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Springer Science + Business Media
Date Published:
Journal Name:
International Journal of STEM Education
Volume:
9
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2196-7822
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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