USM Faculty Commons

Faculty Interest Groups


 Meeting Graphic


Faculty Interest Group (FIG): 

First meeting of Strengths-Based Education FIG

Coordinator: Dan Jenkins, Asst. Professor of Leadership & Organizational Studies

Friday, March 27, 2015, 12:00PM to 2:00PM

Portland Faculty Commons

3rd Floor, Glickman Library

RSVP to  Lunch will be served!


The faculty coordinator of this FIG, supported by funding from the Title III grant, welcomes students, staff, and faculty across the University who are currently using or who are interested in using Strengths-Based education in their courses.  Details below.

Please join us for a faculty interest group focused on “Strengths-Based education.” Supported by the field of Positive Psychology where, when applied to education, the premise is that individuals are able to gain far more when they are building on their talents than when they seek to remediate their weaknesses.  Using the StrengthsFinder—an assessment designed to measure raw talents that can be developed further into strengths and identify “signature themes” (or groups of similar talent) that can be productively applied to achieve success—as a springboard for conversation, we will create a learning community that discusses methods to work with students to identify the talents they bring into the learning environment.  According to recent scholarship in this area, academic professionals who use StrengthsFinder in their work with college students have the opportunity to learn about their own strengths and how these strengths combine.  This knowledge can help build the confidence to provide high-quality teaching or support services based on his or her strengths.  Faculty have the opportunity to better understand and apply their own strengths to each aspect of the teaching and learning process, from preparation and course design, interaction with students in class, advising and mentoring, to feedback and grading. 

 The Strength-Based Education FIG (SEFIG) will develop a “toolbox” of materials and best practices that can be used to integrate student and faculty strengths into teaching and learning activities—across disciplines—at USM.  The SEFIG is intended for faculty and/or staff collaboration to investigate methods for integrating Strengths across curriculum and instruction and provide a forum for faculty/staff scholarship and networking.  Initially following a “share and teach” model, the SEFIG will come together monthly for facilitated discussion and evaluation of new research articles, and explore creative methods of teaching with Strengths.  Likewise, we anticipate the SEFIG will serve as a supportive group for members’ own emerging pieces of work: papers, presentations, or grant proposals.

 If you have not yet completed the StrengthsFinder assessment and would like to receive your “Top 5” Strengths prior to attending this meeting, please contact Dan Jenkins at

You can learn more about StrengthsFinder here.

To learn more about Strengths at USM, please visit our homepage at



Past Updates:


Faculty Interest Group (FIG):

First meeting of Reflective Practice FIG

Coordinators: Mary Anne Peabody and Susan Spear

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 4:30 to 6PM

Portland Faculty Common

3rd Floor, Glickman Library

RSVP to  Refreshments will be served


The faculty coordinators of this FIG, supported by funding from the Title III grant, welcome students, staff and faculty across the University who seek to critically and creatively reflect upon and refine existing and emerging teaching and research ideas on the topic of reflective practice to join them. Details below.


Please join us for a faculty interest group focused on "teaching and learning the skills of reflective practice."  Reflection is the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate key lessons taught by experience. While many high impact practices include a reflective component, the literature describes reflective practice in higher education as often ill-defined, difficult to apply, and even more difficult to teach. The “Reflective Practice” FIG is intended for faculty collaboration to investigate and identify best high impact practices in both facilitating and teaching reflection with undergraduate and graduate students, and to provide a forum for faculty scholarship and networking. Initially following a journal club model, this FIG will come together monthly for facilitated discussion and evaluation of new research articles, and explore creative methods of teaching that move beyond the more traditional techniques often used in reflective practice assignments. Likewise, we anticipate the FIG will serve as a supportive group for members’ own emerging pieces of work: papers, presentations, or grant proposals.





Faculty Interest Group Awards

The responses to our Call for FIG Leaders displayed a rich variety of ideas and technologies for effective teaching practices.  We are pleased to announce the awarding of 4 new Faculty Interest Groups (FIGs).  These groups will be meeting regularly throughout the Spring 2015 semester. The Call was developed out of an intention to foster scholarly teaching, as well as scholarship about effective, evidence-based teaching practices to improve student outcomes, while providing a viable and rewarding method for producing research, scholarship, and creative activity necessary for promotion and tenure.  Below is the list of Faculty Interest Group awardees and lead contact person(s).

  • Integrating Screen Share and Video Casting Technology into Virtual Classrooms, Meetings, and Professional Development – Jeffery S. Beaudry, PhD
  • Reflective Practice – Mary Anne Peabody, EdD & Susan Spear, PhD
  • Strengths-based Education – Daniel Jenkins, PhD
  • Three Steps for USM STEM Classrooms: Technology Tools (1) open possibilities for Active Learning (2) including High Impact Educational Practices (3) – Lucille Benedict, PhD & David Champlin, PhD

We hope to highlight the work of these groups at the Title III Symposium on March 23rd and 24th with visiting speaker Professor Barbara Holland.  More information to come…



Past Events:

USM’s Faculty Commons and the Title III Grant’s Project Team announce a 

Call for Proposals for Faculty Interest Groups (FIGs) and FIG Leaders

First Round DUE 10/01/14 

UPDATE:  First 3 FIGs will be elegible to recieve additional mini-grant funds!

Are you seeking collaboration and community?  

Would you like to be a member of a group with a shared interest and/or passion in the area of teaching and learning?  

Are you interested in finding ways to improve your work as a faculty member and student mentor?

USM’s Title III Faculty Development Project Team invites applications for Faculty Interest Groups (FIG).


What is a FIG?

A FIG, or Faculty Interest Group, is an intentional group of people with a mutual interest in a particular aspect of teaching and learning, especially using, adopting, or adapting High Impact Educational Practices (HIPs).* FIGs can also be used to explore promising new practices.  FIGs are open to all faculty/instructors, full or part-time, as well as staff with a particular interest in the proposed topic.  

FIGs are intended ”to support instructors in the development and enhancement of the curriculum, including the use of new, relevant, technological resources and pedagogical methods (evidence-based teaching practices) that support student learning and achievement,” foster scholarly teaching, and promote research, scholarship, and creative activity (RSCA) in these areas.

At USM, FIGs offer an opportunity for a collaborative approach to improving teaching and for producing research, scholarship, and creative activity necessary for peer review, promotion and tenure.  Other institutions have developed FIGs for similar purposes to good effect.  To read more about how high impact practices affect student success, look at: Outcomes of High-Impact Educational Practices: A Literature Review by Brownell & Swaner, C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.  You can access the article via the following link:

Sample foci for FIGs include:

  • Building community among students in the classroom or online
  • Enhanced Technology in the Classroom (blended, flipped, clickers, etc.)
  • Mentoring Students
  • Redesigning a Gateway Course(s)
  • Service-Learning
  • Strengths-Based Education
  • Undergraduate Research 

*For more information on HIPs, visit:


How does it work? 

Each FIG has a faculty coordinator who takes responsibility for organizing, facilitating and maintaining the Faculty Interest Group; coordinating, as needed, with Faculty Commons, Title III Project Team and Title III HIP coordinating committee, and working with appropriate University offices for support and assistance.  FIGs are designed to create a framework where members can come together to share best practices, do research about their topic, support each other in practicing their methodology, assess the effect of the method upon student learning, and/or produce scholarship about the method.  Coordinators file brief reports on their FIG's activities.

Resources to support FIGs include:

  • $1000 stipend
  • Modest resources to support convening of FIG meetings
  • BlackBoard site available


Think it might be for you...?  Here is what to do! 

Please submit the following information in a 2-page (maximum) Word document to the Coordinator of Faculty Commons Initiatives and Title III Project Team member, Prof. Judy Spross via email at

  • FIG Faculty Coordinator(s) Name/Unit
  • Departments/programs involved in
  • Proposed FIG
    • Description of structure articulating the purpose and structure/strategies for accomplishing
    • Description of how the FIG will enhance student learning, engagement and/or retention
    • Description of possible outcomes for students 

Proposals will be in relation to the following criteria: 

    1. Clear identification of proposed Faculty Interest Group

      • Members (e.g., faculty, instructors, students, student success staff, research personnel)
      • Identification of faculty  coordinator/co-coordinators
      • Purpose
      • Possible/likely outcomes for students and faculty (e.g., student retention, collaborative student/faculty work, such as a paper, other qualitative and/or quantitative measures, publication or other scholarship for the group)
      • Duration (e.g., one semester, one academic year)
      • Resources needed and approximate costs
    2. Rationale for how the FIG can enhance student learning, engagement, and/or retention and proposed meaning and impact for FIG members, students and USM.
    3. Clear description of proposed activities (e.g., structure for ongoing collaboration; strategies for sharing best practices, faculty development, support group for practicing and adopting a new teaching approach; scholarly product support).
    4. Interdisciplinary/interdepartmental approach.


Open to Undergraduate and Graduate Faculty


Click here for a copy of the flyer

Click here for a copy of the second-notice flyer

To learn more about the Title III First STEPS Grant visit