Students in class listening to instructor

Communities of Practice

The FPD program provides support for faculty interested in developing or participating in both formal and informal learning communities. Inquiry groups are communities of practice built around topics of special interest. Affinity spaces provide participants with common interests a collective voice, sense of community, and both professional and personal support.

What is an Inquiry Group?

An inquiry group is a community of practice built around examining topics of special interest. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching describes faculty inquiry as “a form of professional development by which teachers identify and investigate questions about their students’ learning.”

Inquiry Groups are also known as teaching communities and faculty interest groups.

In The Promise of Faculty Inquiry for Teaching and Learning Basic Skills, Mary Huber writes that “the core work of faculty inquiry involves instructors asking questions about the teaching and learning that goes on in their own classrooms; seeking answers by consulting the literature, gathering and analyzing evidence, and engaging students in the process whenever possible; using what they find out to improve the experience of their students; and sharing this work with colleagues so that they and their students can benefit too. Usually, questioning begins with a problem the instructor has perceived—something that’s not going right.”

What Do Inquiry Groups Do?

  • Create professional communities in which educators can share what happens in classrooms
  • Articulate and negotiate the most important outcomes for student learning
  • Use the tools of classroom research to understand the experience of students more deeply
  • Share insights and findings
  • Examine a wide range of evidence, from examples of student work to campus-level quantitative data that describes patterns of student performance
  • Invite, and offer, critical reflection and peer review
  • Collaborate in the design of curricula, assignments, and assessments
  • Build trust as an essential component of ongoing improvement
  • Support professional identity and responsibility among educators

(from Leading Faculty Inquiry Groups, Carnegie Foundation)

Communities of Practice

Anyone can form or join a community of practice. Contact the Faculty Professional Development Coordinator if you would like more information or would like to publicize your community.

Contact Information

Faculty Chair of Professional Development
(630) 942-2383
Student Resource Center (SRC), Room 1107

Learning Technologies
(630) 942-2490
Berg Instructional Center (BIC), Room 3401

Adjunct Faculty Support
(630) 942-3288
Berg Instructional Center (BIC), Room 1500

Employee Development Center
(630) 942-3805
Student Resource Center (SRC), Room 1105/1107