It takes hard work and dedication to make a difference. The tireless efforts of a group of academicians who recognize how understanding our Learning Profile empowers us to take control of our own learning are helping the principles and practices of the Let Me Learn process® to take hold at the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire (UWEC) in the northwest part of the Dairy State. A “community of practice,” a cohort that is offered through the university’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, has been formed by Larry Solberg, Associate Dean, College of Education and Human Sciences, and Faith Pawelski, Coordinator for Tutor Training and Social Sciences. Pawelski and Solberg, along with five other faculty and academic staff members, have developed the Let Me Learn community of practice and are spreading LML through the university community at Eau Claire.
The progress made so far has been enabled by the fact that Pawelski and Solberg have taken advantage of in-person and online LML courses presented by Dr. Christine Johnston, LML originator and lead researcher, and have completed the LML certification process. That gives the UWEC campus unlimited license to provide Let Me Learn training, including access to the Learning Connections Inventory (LCI), to students, faculty, and staff. Following the site licensure, according to Pawelski, “it was the logical step” to form an LML community of practice.
The participants in the LML cohort, all of whom had been exposed to LML via presentations, are a varied group. Solberg notes that of the five (in addition to himself and Pawelski), one is a faculty member from the College of Education and Human Science, two are professional academic staff members who teach general education, and two are members of the academic advising staff. They all have responded enthusiastically to the ongoing discussions of the LML process and are moving into more specific considerations of its applicability to their professional functions.
“Everything was converging during our last session,” Solberg reports. “Cohort participants were demonstrating much greater awareness of themselves as learners and how that was reflected in course assignments.” The next step for them, Pawelski adds, “is to start thinking about how they’re going to apply what they have learned in their own work.”
“The advisors in particular,” Pawelski continues, “are looking at ways to use LML to help students who are looking for majors. And some of those that are teaching are looking at ways to incorporate LML into their classes.” Solberg adds that one of the academic staff members teaches student success and study skills strategy classes like those Pawelski teaches, and plans to “roll it out as Faith has,” with the help of the Let Me Learn manual Strategic Learning: A Guide to Understanding Your Learning Self.
Another member of the cohort is working with English Language Learners, Solberg continues, and is looking into ways to incorporate LML practices into that area. Another is planning to use LML in a mentoring course, in which UWEC students work in the community with public school students. “The mentors learn about themselves as learners,” Solberg notes, “and learn about their mentees as learners, which hopefully helps in the tutoring they do.”
The Community in Action
The cohort plans to meet at least twice more this spring term. “We’re going to be getting together around midterm to see where people are in terms of implementing the process,” Solberg says. “Then we will meet again at the end of the semester to review how they think things have gone.” Pawleski adds, “I think we are done with what I would call the teaching part of it, and we’re getting together now to be supportive and to see what other people are doing and sharing.”
What about the future of LML at UWEC? “When we’ve talked about how LML is going to move on this campus,” Solberg says, “we’ve talked about it from the grassroots up.” The Academic Skills Center has embraced LML, and more faculty members and academic departments are showing interest. Pawelski and Solberg were asked recently to do a presentation for two academic cohorts of new faculty and instructional staff members, individuals involved in a teaching certificate program. In addition, members of the nursing and health sciences and economics departments have lately shown particular interest in Let Me Learn.
Faculty members within Solberg’s department also have been introduced to LML, and all its graduate students fill out the LCI. “We’ve also given LML training to tutors and their trainees,” Pawelski says, “so lots of students who are working with other students have gotten to take it.”
It seems probable that there will be a sort of new “class” of LML practitioners each year, with faculty and staff who are more experienced in the theory and practice of LML serving in a mentoring capacity for those who are newer to it. Let Me Learn—and the benefits it can bring both students, faculty, and staff—is better than alive and well at UWEC: The ripples are spreading.