Professional Development

Professional Learning Communities

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are small groups of faculty who seek to create new understandings together through the study and application of research-based practices in their classroom to improve professional practice and how students learn.

Although there is no one right way to do learning communities, there are some common elements among successful teaming:

  • A disciplined way to focus the energy of the group - a clear and compelling purpose, a clear goal for each meeting, a clear assignment for everyone to complete between meetings.

  • Use data and student work to determine goals, to drive decisions, and to evidence progress.

  • Meet frequently over an extended period of time.

  • Learn together about improving instruction for the purpose of improving student learning.

  • When everyone contributes, added benefits often include rapport, trust, and support among members.

Professional Development Through Professional Learning Communities

Professional learning communities allow faculty to focus their professional development efforts in an area of unique or strong interest. Following successful completion, each member can apply the work toward their Quality Faculty Plan.

The following assumptions underlie professional learning communities:

  • Faculty is energized and more effective if they can collaborate with their peers about teaching and learning.

  • People learn more through active construction of knowledge rather than through passive reception of information.

  • Personal interest increases motivation to learn. Great questions create enthusiastic, inquisitive learning.

  • Good teachers are grown, fostered, and supported.

  • Teaching excellence increases student learning.

  • A collaborative culture strengthens an organization’s ability to achieve goals.

  • People have an inherent desire to learn and contribute.

  • Learning is both fun and rewarding.

Getting Started

  1. Identify an area of study, a goal for improvement, or a collaborative project for which you have an interest.

  2. Find three to five more people who share this area of interest. A community size of four to six is best.

  3. Together, complete the Professional Learning Communities Charter form [pdf] and have your community facilitator send the completed form to the Director of the Brobst Center for Teaching and Learning Services.

  4. Begin meeting as outlined on your Charter. At the end of each meeting, the facilitator will send the following to the Director of the Brobst Center for Teaching and Learning Services:

  5. Each member will be provided a certificate of completion by the Brobst Center for Teaching and Learning Services to document their faculty development work in the quality faculty plan.

Brobst Center for Teaching and Learning Services

Tama Hall 107, 109, 110
319-296-4018 (fax)
Email us

Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:30pm

Learning Lab

Tama Hall 109

Digital Resource Lab

Tama Hall 109A

Brobst Center Staff