Faculty Learning Communities

Intersections of Culture and Learning: Implications for Student Success, Faculty Growth, and Teaching

Sponsored by the University College and the Faculty Professional Development Program



The purpose of this project is to work toward increasing the retention of Latino and Native American students through a faculty learning community focused on faculty development in culture, learning, and teaching.

Through the establishment in April 2012 of a faculty learning community that initiated its work with a two-day summer retreat on August 9 & 10, faculty will examine and implement culturally resonant college teaching methods.

They will meet on a regular basis throughout the year, will design class and methodological reforms based on research and reflection, will undertake a study of the impact of their reforms on student success, and will have a 2013 retreat for planning dissemination of their findings.


This project arose in collaboration with professors at the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque) who have been researching the impact of culturally resonant university teaching. They are undertaking a similar project so the work at each institution will influence the other. This project aligns with each of Northern Arizona University’s strategic values:

  • excellence in education
  • student success
  • educational access
  • diversity
  • integrity
  • civility
  • increasing retention/success rates

Other initiatives

This project is complementary to current efforts to redesign large introductory courses. Through in-depth reflection of a small faculty group and their current teaching practices, faculty will gain insight into and develop culturally resonant teaching practices.  This reflection will include:

  • an autobiography of underlying cultural traits in teaching
  • classroom observations
  • theory
  • presentation of study findings as they evolve
  • interaction with students
  • collaborative exploration

Project leaders

Susan D. Longerbeam, PhD is associate professor at Northern Arizona University in the Educational Psychology Department. Longerbeam’s research interests include multiculturalism and college student success, using quantitative and qualitative approaches. Selected publications appear in the Journal of College Student Development, Diversity in Higher Education, and Research in Higher Education.

Linda Shadiow, PhD is a professor of educational foundations in the College of Education and director of the Faculty Professional Development Program. She coordinates the Diversity Symposium Series, designed and taught a course on cultural foundations of education, and has written about applying culturally responsive teaching. She is currently completing a book, “What Our Stories Teach Us: A Guide to Critical Reflection for College Faculty.”

Alicia Fedelina Chávez, PhD is a faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership and Organizational Learning at the University of New Mexico. Her scholarship centers on underlying cultural constructs of collegiate leadership, teaching, and organizational operations. Publications include "Leading in the Borderlands: Negotiating Ethnic Patriarchy for the Benefit of Students," "Islands of Empowerment: Facilitating Multicultural Learning Communities," "Spirit of Place: Crafting a College in Northern New Mexico Rhythm," and "Toward an Ecology of Multicultural Teaching and Learning."