CPLC Season 1: Orientation

Before we begin, you may wish to follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook. And please find us on Moodle (login required)!


  1. Welcome (10 minutes)
    1. The only hard and fast rule in the CPLC is there are no hard and fast rules in the CPLC.
    2. The Learning Community Model: Process, Practice, Projects
    3. The Sad Wall (bit.ly/sadwall): frustrations/distractions/wonderings/etc.
  2. Icebreaker: CPLC Book Fair! (20 minutes)
  3. “Starting with Values” Activity (25 minutes)
  4. The Architecture of the CPLC
    1. Levels of Engagement (5 minutes)
    2. Three Frameworks to Focus the CPLC (5 minutes)
      (Core CPLC Pedagogies, Cluster Pedagogy, Habits of Mind)
    3. “Identifying Local Contexts” Activity (20 minutes)
    4. “Ecosystems for Learning Communities” Activity (15 minutes)
  5. Expectations for Engagement & Commitment Decisions (10 minutes)

Activity: Icebreaker

To begin, quickly read through the quotes below, and select one that interests you. Write for four minutes about your selection: Why did you choose it? How does it connect to your own practice or values? What thoughts about teaching and learning does it generate for you? (After this step, we will be sharing our thoughts with a partner.)

The New Education by Cathy Davidson

“Right now, redesigning higher education demands institutional restructuring, a revolution in every classroom, curriculum, and assessment system. It means refocusing away from the passive student to the whole person learning new ways of thinking through problems with no easy solutions. It shifts the goal of college from fulfilling course and graduation requirements to learning for success in the world after college. It means testing learning in serious and thoughtful ways, so that students take charge of what and how they know, how they collaborate, how they respond to feedback, and how they grow.”

An Urgency of Teachers by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel

“Efficiency, when it comes to teaching and learning, is not worth valorizing. Schools are not factories, nor are learning or learning products part of the mill. We are made deeply skeptical when we hear the word ‘content’ in discussions about education, particularly when it is accompanied by the word ‘packaged.’ It is not that education is without content altogether, but that its content is co-constructed as part of and not in advance of the learning.”

Generous Thinking by Kathleen Fitzpatrick

“What if the expertise that the university cultivated were at its root connected to building forms of collectivity, solidarity, and community both on campus and off? What if the communities around the campus were invited to be a part of these processes? How might we work together to break down the us-and-them divide between campus and public and instead create a richer, more complex sense of the connections among all of us? If those of us on campus were free to focus on intellectual leadership not as an exercise in forwarding our own individual ideas but rather as a mode of supporting the development of our multiple communities, could we create a richer sense of the future of for our fields, for our institutions?”

How Humans Learn by Josh Eyler

“Designing curricula and courses that pay little heed to the fundamental ways in which human beings learn leads to knowledge gains that are less deep and complete. We may see evidence of memorization and even some conceptual development, but we will still not have employed our most valuable resources to achieve learning that is sustainable. Perhaps most importantly, when we utilize the science of learning, it becomes easier to see teaching as something that every instructor can do well.”

Creating Wicked Students by Paul Hanstedt

“My experience is that it’s better to ask more of students than less, to push them further than they’ve ever gone rather than ask them to retread safe ground. After all, the end goal here is to develop students who can encounter unscripted or wicked problems, situations that almost by definition they don’t see coming. Turning a page on the syllabus, then, and seeing a problem that at first seems overwhelming and even a little bit frightening is perhaps not such bad training for life after graduation… If our goal is to develop students’ capacity to be engaged and deliberate citizens, what do we need to do in our classrooms? How should we design our assignments and exams? What texts should we assign, if any?”

Paying the Price by Sarah Goldrick-Rab

“Sixty percent of Americans aged twenty-five to sixty-four do not hold a college credential. But 22 percent of them—32.6 million American—have tried to get one. They left college frustrated, often saying it had something to do with money. The ladder people must climb to get to graduation has eroded, and a critical rung—affordability—is almost completely broken… Lack of financial resources is keeping students from succeeding. Suggesting that low-income students merely need to learn how to live more frugally is usually a misplaced recommendation—and an offensive one, to boot. As Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘To recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less.’”

Values Criteria (adapted from the work of Dr. Sidney Simon)

  • It’s something you chose to value, not something imposed on you.
  • You feel good about having the value, and you are willing to tell those you trust about it.
  • You act on the value. It’s reflected in your life somehow.

If you could have Plymouth State University stand for something, what would it stand for?

  1. Make a list. Try to list at least 7 things.
  2. Reorder the list, in order of importance to you with the most important value at the top.
  3. Give each item on the list a score (0–10) based on how closely aligned it is with the actual orientation of the university, in your opinion. For example, if the value is something you think is not at all reflected in the actual mission, structures, practices, or plans of the university, you would assign that value a 0.
  4. Put a check mark ✓ next to any item on the list that you feel you are personally able to live out, in a tangible way, in your own work at Plymouth State.

Find a partner and discuss:

What kinds of institutional values emerged as important to you? How aligned is Plymouth State with what you wish it was about? Where is there alignment and where is there dissonance? Where do you have opportunities to increase that alignment? Is there a difference between how aligned the university as a whole is and how aligned your own work here is with the values that matter to you?

Combine with another partner pair:

Share the highlights of your conversation with your partner, and talk together about whatever is emerging as most interesting, helpful, or notable. Have someone take notes so your group can turn in a brief encapsulation of your values/thoughts.

Discussion: Levels of Engagement

The CPLC values engagement at multiple levels. To create paradigm shift, coherence, and/or institutional change, we can consider how teaching and learning can be improved or transformed through both theory (how we conceptualize and describe our work) and practice (how we do our work). The intersection of theory and practice might be called “praxis.” Some people like to focus on the philosophies, motivations, models, critiques, and vision that inform pedagogy. Other people might enjoy looking at their daily work and thinking about how new practices could improve the learning experience. Some people like to work in an integrated way across theory and practice. The CPLC encourages you to start with what most attracts you.

The CPLC itself will also be agile as it moves across this praxis scale. Sometimes, we will focus on the WHAT. We will share information, examine practice, and center questions related to content. Sometimes, we will focus on the HOW. We will think about our own process, revise our engagement and activities to generate different experiences, and rethink the way we ask our students to undertake learning. And always, we will try to ask WHY. What is the purpose of our engagement? Why does this work matter? Why are we asking our students to engage with new or particular approaches to their work? We all have different proclivities and disciplinary backgrounds that make us stronger or weaker across these WHAT, HOW, & WHY questions, and we are counting on everyone to value the different perspectives we each bring to this collaborative work.

In addition to the theory and practice continuum, there is also a continuum that reflects different levels where the work of the CPLC can engage. Some of us will choose to work on particular assignments or course projects. Others may be more focused on whole courses or even whole programs. Still others may want to focus on our larger institutional mission, structures, or policies, or on building partnerships between the university and the larger public. Working across all of these levels is central to our success, but not every member of the CPLC has to work across all levels if we work as a team.

Activity: Identifying Local Contexts

In your own local contexts at PSU, where are you engaged with any of the following three frameworks:

  • CPLC Core Learning Models
  • Cluster Pedagogy
  • The Habits of Mind

What aspects of your teaching, service, or scholarship could connect more fruitfully with these ideas and approaches? Try to be specific. After you pair/discuss with a partner, please use bit.ly/cplcshare to share with the group.

Discussion: Three Frameworks to Focus the CPLC

CPLC Core Pedagogies


Think about learning through experience; active learning & “hands-on, minds-on” approaches; respecting the learner’s unique identity and past; learner agency and responsibility for learning; instructor as guide-on-the-side rather than sage-on-the-stage; collaboration and contexts as key to learning.


Think about learning at the nodes; the importance of weak ties and connections between different/disparate ideas and perspectives; learning as a communal rather than individual endeavor; a focus on currency; a focus on community over content; considering how technology can enhance (or impede) learning and how technology changes knowledge and communication.

Cluster Pedagogy


Think about multi-disciplinary (adjacent content and multiple perspectives), interdisciplinary (combined content and integrated methods), and transdisciplinary (disciplinary knowledge combined with practices and perspectives from outside the university) approaches; linked (like linked Gen Ed courses) & federated (one hub course and many spokes) structures.

Project-Based Learning

Think about projects as the main meal (PBL) rather than the dessert (project-oriented learning); learning content through the project; sustained inquiry around a question; reflection and critique; student voice and choice; moving toward a public product.

Open Education

Think about increasing students’ access to knowledge and their access to knowledge creation; eliminating barriers to learning; students as contributors to (not just consumers of) the knowledge commons; building sustainable educational models for the public good and for the development of human knowledge.

Habits of Mind

Purposeful Communication

  • awareness of context
  • comprehension
  • purposeful expression
  • effective application of strategies for communication

Problem Solving

  • problem framing
  • challenge identification
  • plan development
  • decision-making and revision
  • evaluation of progress

Integrated Perspective

  • self-awareness
  • perspective seeking
  • interconnectedness
  • collaboration

Self-Regulated Learning

  • responsibility for own learning
  • engagement in learning process
  • metacognitive awareness

Activity: Ecosystems for Learning Communities

Large Group Questions:
  • What are the advantages of using Moodle to share our work?
  • What are the disadvantages of using Moodle to share our work?
At Your Table: What alternative modes of sharing, collaboration, and engagement could we use in addition to the LMS? These can be modes that currently exist or that would need to be built. During your table discussion, please share your ideas as they emerge at bit.ly/cplcshare2.

Activity: Expectations for Engagement

Expectations for Engagement

  • Engage an hour a week
  • Read, Reflect, Revise
  • Prepare & Attend (next meeting June 4th!)
  • Develop local projects
  • Track our engagement

Cohort 1

May 2019-May 2020

Your Printed Name_____________________________________________

Your Official PSU Title___________________________________________

The Cluster Pedagogy Learning Community is an optional program designed for faculty and staff who want to contribute to Plymouth State’s development around cluster pedagogy and participate in an ongoing conversation about teaching and learning with their peers. Because we hope to build a robust community around these conversations, we expect regular engagement from our participants.

Now that you have had time to think about your participation in this community and attend our orientation session, please let us know whether you plan to continue by filling out the rest of this form.

I understand:

  • that my attendance at our two summer sessions in 2019, one University Days session in August 2019, one CPLC session per semester, and January Jamboree are required;
  • that in addition to these sessions, I will be engaging weekly with our learning community via discussions and readings and activities and projects;
  • that I will be asked to participate in assessments and reflections at the end of this program;
  • that my particular track may also have additional requirements beyond those that are mentioned here;
  • that if I do not end up actively participating in the CPLC as described above, I will forfeit the second half of my participation stipend.

I pledge to:

  • engage with the community in ways that are personally meaningful to me, and adjust activities and assignments to fit the needs of my local institutional context;
  • offer suggestions and critique when I see ways that the CPLC is falling short of its potential.

Yes, please sign me up for continuing with the CPLC:

Signature____________________________________________ Date___________________

No, I prefer not to continue at this time:

Signature____________________________________________ Date___________________