USM Faculty Commons

Faculty Interest Groups

USM’s Title III Faculty Development Project Team Faculty Interest Groups (FIG)

 Meeting Graphic

Overview of FIGs at USM

2015-16 Title III FIGs

How to start your own FIG

Check the Archives for Past Updates


Overview of FIGs at USM

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. FIGs are open to all instructors, full or part-time, as well as staff with a particular interest in the topic.

FIGs are intended to foster scholarly teaching and research, scholarship, and creative artistry (RSCA) around effective, evidence-based teaching practices to improve student outcomes and success at USM and beyond.

FIGs offer an opportunity for a collaborative approach to improving teaching as well as producing research, scholarship, and creative activity necessary for promotion and tenure.

This information session is designed to provide an overview of FIGS at USM. Come and learn more about the following FIGs:

  • Three Steps for USM STEM Classrooms

  • Reflective Practice

  • Integrating Screen Share and Video Casting Technology

  • Developing and Redesigning EYE course(s)

  • Developing and Redesigning capstone course(s)

  • High Impact Practices

  • Strengths-Based Education

  • Engaging Students in Research

  • Faculty Writing Group

    Also come if you have an idea for a FIG and want to learn how to get started.

    If you have questions or would like more information about FIGS, please contact Cathie Fallona at, Title III Faculty Fellow for Professional Development.  

To learn more about the Title III First STEPS Grant visit

Faculty Interest Groups (FIGS)


High Impact Practices (HIP) - Dan Panici

There is a lot of talk around USM about high-impact learning or high-impact educational practices. This FIG provides faculty with the opportunity to discuss the creation, implementation, and efficacy of high-impact practices. High-impact practices (HIPs) facilitate learning outside of the classroom, require meaningful interactions between faculty and students, encourage collaboration, and provide substantive feedback. HIPs include first-year seminars, writing-intensive courses, collaborative assignments, internships, and capstone courses.  Students exposed to two or more HIPs during their academic career achieve higher grades, have higher persistence rates, and report many personal and intellectual gains.  

Reflective Practice FIG - Mary Anne Peabody and Susan Noyes

The “Reflective Practice” FIG provides a forum for faculty collaboration to investigate and identify best practices in both facilitating and teaching reflection in undergraduate and graduate students, and to provide a forum for faculty scholarship and networking. Using a "journal club" model, interdisciplinary faculty share current literature, discuss and engage in successful experiential reflective practice techniques that can be incorporated into coursework, and collaborate on shared scholarship opportunities. We plan to continue this format during fall semester.

Active Learning in the STEM Classroom - Luci Benedict and Dave Champlin

We have three goals we are pursuing. First, what tools are currently being used by individual USM STEM faculty in their classrooms to transform the learning environment. Second, as tools are deployed, what can we do to create active, student-centered, learning environments in our classrooms. Third, rather than reinventing the wheel, what can we learn from evidence-based best practices in K-12 and college classrooms? This effort includes building cross-disciplinary teams to seek external funding to support transformative teaching efforts at USM.

Digital Media and Design - Carl Blue, Dave Pierson and Jan Piribeck

The emphasis of this FIG is on the promotion of digital literacy with a concentration on the client, the message, and its expression. The goal is to provide resources for the creation of collaborative products and broaden the appeal in art, media and information and communication technology careers through these efforts.  The goal is to increase cooperation with local economic partners and creating and developing digital messaging products, this collaboratory with will serve as paradigm and focal point for mutual willingness in promoting high quality student experiences, assist in the design of reusable content of for distributed learning and provide a channel for community outreach. Through access to community engagement activities and greater opportunities for internships, better academic retention is one of the primary goals of this FIG.

Strengths Based Education - Dan Jenkins

The purpose of the Strength-Based Education FIG (SEFIG) is to develop a learning community of faculty and staff who are currently using or who are interested in using Strengths-Based education in their courses.  The interdepartmental membership is an important consideration for this FIG.  Because StrengthsFinder is an integrated approach here at USM, including interested and experienced faculty and staff are important to the success of this group.  Current faculty using Strengths transcend departments.  Accordingly, the SEFIG provides a forum for sharing ideas across disciplines and creates opportunities for collaboration.  Allowing students a holistic or immersive experience in StrengthsFinder will better help them to understand and internalize the message, which translates into skills that they can use for the rest of their lives and careers.  A toolbox of materials is being developed though this FIG as well.  

Integrating Screen Share and Video Casting Technology into Virtual Classrooms, Meetings, and Professional Development - Jeff Beaudry

Screen sharing is a strategy to increase instructor presence in a fully online or blended course or seminar. Screen casting and video making are tools used to customize learning and create new combinations of student-teacher interactions.  With screen sharing and screen casting there will be an increase in student-to-student interactions in a challenging learning environment.  The variety and selection of technology tools is increasing, as is the capacity of computers and mobile devices.  The group that is formed is part of an ongoing initiative for support in pedagogy.  

The foci for this FIG include: 1) building community among students and faculty, and faculty and faculty in the online and blended environment, 2) enhancing the use of technology in the classroom and workplace, and 3) improving skills at planning and producing videos with screencasting software.

New Faculty FIG - Cathie Fallona

The goal of this FIG is to foster a community amongst and support new faculty to USM.  The FIG is open to all full and part time faculty who are new to USM in the last couple of years or whose roles have changed during that time.  Agenda will be driven by faculty interests and needs.

Other ideas for FIGS that have been suggested include--

  • Developing and Redesigning EYE course(s)

  • Developing and Redesigning capstone course(s)

  • Supporting students’ writing

  • Engaging students in research

FIGS are supported by USM’s Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

USM’s Title III Faculty Development Program announces a 


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


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 leaders to support the growth and development of a Faculty Interest Group (FIG) as a FIG leader.

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.  

Three FIGS will also be eligible for one of the High Impact Practices mini-grants 

Resources to support FIGs include:

  • $1000 additional compensation for ONE coordinator (if there are two coordinators, “adcomp” is split—i.e., $500 each)
  • Modest resources to support convening of FIG meetings and resources to facilitate the work/philosophy proposed (up to $1000)
  • BlackBoard site available; Adobe Connect Meeting room Available 

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

Please submit the following information in a 2-page (maximum) Word document via the secured Faculty Commons email address:

  • 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 
  • Additionally, please include a Proposed budget for resources (include projected costs for any relevant materials or services eg. food, equipment, space rentals, honoraria, etc.)   See below for an example of how to do this or email for more information on how to do this

Proposals will be evaluated in relation to the following criteria:

  1. Clear identification of proposed Faculty Interest Group with regard to
    1. Members (e.g., faculty, instructors, students, student success staff, research personnel)
    2. Purpose
    3. 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)
    4. Duration (e.g., one semester, one academic year)
    5. Budget/Resources needed (max $1000)
  2. Clear 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, support group for practicing and adopting a new teaching approach; scholarly product support) and the budget to support the activities.
  4. Interdisciplinary/interdepartmental approach.

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