Creating Cross-Disciplinary Faculty-Learning Experiences Through NISOD Regional Workshops

by Kris Tolman / Mar 20, 2024

Entering the world of teaching, whether as a newcomer or a seasoned educator, can be both rewarding and challenging. Although the journey is filled with opportunities to connect with students and inspire learning, it can also bring moments of burnout and disillusionment. By building on- and off-campus communities, one can gain fresh perspectives, learn new strategies, and find renewed inspiration in teaching practices.

Research shows that both early-career and senior faculty can benefit from participating in cross-disciplinary faculty-learning communities (FLC) (Karpiak, 1997; Rice et al., 2000). Rice et al. (2000) revealed that early-career faculty reported a desire to work in communities in which collaboration “is respected and encouraged” (p. 13). These same faculty expressed an interest in developing friendships among colleagues within and across departments, with time and opportunities to interact with and learn from one another.

A study of midcareer faculty conducted by Karpiak (1997) found that these faculty experienced burnout and no longer found teaching rewarding, leaving them in desperate need of renewal. In addition, the group felt isolated and on the periphery. The study resulted in 10 recommendations that included creating community among colleagues, stimulating creativity, learning from one another, and developing support networks (Karpiak, 1997).

The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) facilitates faculty-learning communities through its workshops hosted on college campuses. The events bring together educators in the region to network, become inspired, and discover best practices. The workshops also foster continued connections among participants beyond the events.

Spartanburg Community College (SCC) hosted a NISOD Regional Workshop titled “The Age of Artificial Intelligence and Learning,” facilitated by Judith Cardenas. Cheryl Cox, the senior vice president of academic affairs at SCC, said the workshop was “terrific,” adding:

It was definitely a hands-on experience and a great example of the power of active learning. Participants were thoroughly engaged throughout the entire workshop. The information and activities shared led me to consider how we interact with our students and the powerful impact that artificial-intelligence processes could have on improving that interaction.”

This April, Richland Community College will host a NISOD Regional Workshop titled “Relationships Matter,” facilitated by Juan R. Abascal and Dominic Brucato, two engaging presenters who will provide techniques to make teaching more fun and effective.

NISOD encourages individuals to attend these enriching professional-development experiences to gain the necessary tools to create effective relationships with students, encourage students to take more risks with their learning, and unlock the potential of faculty-learning communities.

Kris Tolman is the manager of education programming at NISOD.

Edward J. Leach, the executive director of NISOD, is an OCCRL affiliate member.


Karpiak, I. E. (1997). University professors at mid-life: Being part of…but feeling apart. To Improve the Academy, 16, 21-40.

Rice, R. E., Sorcinellin, M. D., Austin, A. E. (2000). Heeding new voices: Academic careers for a new generation. Inquiry# 7. Working Paper Series. New Pathways: Faculty Careers and Employment for the 21st Century.