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The latest news in higher education and around ACUE
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August 22, 2019

New Efficacy Data Confirm: Students Succeed When Taught Well

New nationwide studies find eliminated completion gaps, fewer withdrawals, improved grades, and stronger engagement among students taught by ACUE-credentialed faculty. Independent experts who assessed these studies commended the “range, depth, and rigor” of this “impressive body of work” that reinforces “the link between faculty development, teaching improvement, and student learning.” Among notable findings:

A course completion gap was eliminated between Black/African American and other students at Texas Woman’s University

Students learned more, earning better grades, at City College of San Francisco

Success rates went up and DFW’s down at Delta State University

Students were more engaged at Miami Dade College and grades improved

Students experienced evidence-based teaching approaches more often at Broward College.

These and related studies examine the impact of over 500 ACUE-credentialed faculty members educating 17,000 students—one of the largest bodies of evidence demonstrating the link between comprehensive pedagogical training on changes in teaching practices and the consequent improvement in student outcomes. 

"We certainly find that faculty who go through the program are very enthusiastic about it, they feel positively about it, but that’s not enough,” ACUE CEO Susan Cates told Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. "The reason for institutions to do this is because it is actually driving better impact for their students."

ACUE convened a panel of experts in higher education research, evaluation, policy, and faculty development to assess the methodologies, findings, and interpretations of the efficacy studies. Reviewers noted the variety of settings “provided a diverse laboratory in which to track faculty and student outcomes” and that “it is much more likely that grades and completion rates went up because [ACUE-credentialed] faculty became better at teaching.”

Committee members were:

Drew Allen, Executive Director of the Initiative for Data Exploration and Analytics (IDEAS) for Higher Education at Princeton University

Michael S. McPherson, President Emeritus of the Spencer Foundation and Macalester College and Co-Chair of the Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education

• Linda B. Nilson, founding director of the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation at Clemson University

Mary Deane Sorcinelli, Director Emeritus of the Center for Teaching & Faculty Development at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research briefs, technical papers, and the reviewers’ full report can be found at: www.acue.org/impact/efficacy-studies-reports/.

Read the report
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"Trust Grandma": Strategies to Promote Reflection and Curiosity

“My granddaughter, a rising sophomore, is buried with assignments. She shared, somewhat despairingly, that rarely can she get anything done in advance—only work due ‘tomorrow!’ I felt her stress and realized she hardly has time for practice and review, to reflect on meaning, or question more deeply,” writes Judith Boettcher, an ACUE contributing expert. “In our rush to ensure that we cover all the necessary course material, it’s easy to lose sight of how learning actually happens.” In this essay, Boettcher presents strategies that promote students’ reflection and curiosity.
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News in Brief

The latest news and opinions in higher education
Teaching the Humanities Online: Lessons from a Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges
“Good teaching is good teaching,” according to a report by the CIC Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction. The Consortium was launched in 2014 to analyze the efficacy of online teaching and learning. Many participants found that developing online courses encouraged them to more carefully consider their “pedagogical assumptions” and practices in new settings and that, using innovative strategies, they were able to engage students in online forums. (The Council of Independent Colleges)

Syllabus-Writing Season
Among other strategies for writing a syllabus, Matt Reed suggests that instructors bear in mind that most students struggle not because of their ability or attitude but due to circumstances. To that end, he encourages them to include notes about campus services and resources. He also sees syllabi as a place to reach out to vulnerable students. (Confessions of a Community College Dean)


Want Students to Care About General Education? Ask Them to Help Explain Why It Matters
Many students see general education courses as irrelevant to their goals, so Boise State University had students themselves develop strategies for better articulating the purpose of these courses. Their solutions included integrating the word “foundations” into the course titles, presenting statistics on the range of different jobs the average person holds in a lifetime, and stressing how gen ed courses teach students “ways of knowing” — or how to think differently. (The Chronicle of Higher Education Teaching Newsletter)


I Matter Here. Maybe.
Kathleen Bortolin advocates making teaching and learning centers “safe spaces” for faculty and recommends celebrating empathy, inclusivity, compassion, and kindness. So many instructors struggle and feel isolated, she writes, and it’s vital to support faculty.
 (University Affairs)

Partner News


Husson University: For Second Consecutive Year, Husson University Joins Prestigious National Initiative to Strengthen Teaching and Learning (Husson University)
University of Wisconsin-Madison: UW-Madison’s Reilly co-authors article on 'Creating Value' in higher education (UW-Madison)
Welcome, new partners! 
We are excited to welcome our newest institutional members, Lenoir Community College and Metropolitan State University. We look forward to working with you to credential your faculty members in the use of evidence-based teaching practices that drive student engagement and learning!
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