The American Council on Education (ACE) and the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) are collaborating to improve college instruction via ACUE’s professional development and certificate program. ACUE was founded in 2014, and ACE’s president, Molly Corbett Broad, sits on its board of advisors.
Matt Goldstein, chairman of ACUE’s board of advisors, said in a call with the press on Monday afternoon that low student retention and graduation rates call for a revised approach to instructor preparation. “This is a serious stain on higher education, that in many places, well under 50 percent of the students actually leave with a degree,” Goldstein said. “Our research, and the research that is in the public domain, speaks very clearly to the fact that good teaching matters.”
Jonathan Gyurko, founder and CEO of ACUE and former adjunct assistant professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, said that with the faculty development certificates are informed by the most current research on best practices in the field, “so that we can help institutions and educators strengthen their practice and have greater confidence that across an institution that students are benefiting from research-based instruction.”
The development program is intended to transmute skills that “every” college instructor ought to possess. In its current form, Gyurko said, the techniques and strategies promoted in ACUE’s development program are “broadly applicable” across disciplines.
Goldstein said that many factors contribute to low graduation rates. Some are student-specific, if they are dealing with pressures outside of school, such as work or family commitments. While colleges might not be able to change that element of the student experience, they can have a concrete influence over instructor preparation.
“What we can have an impact upon is how well prepared students who finish a Ph.D. are to teach,” Goldstein said.
The composition of the faculty ranks has changed in recent years, Goldstein acknowledged. More than 50 percent of faculty are now part-time, or adjunct, according to AAUP. “We are placing people in front of classrooms today that we know little about relative to what we would know about people that are going through the professorial ranks as tenure-track faculty,” Goldstein said.
ACUE carried out a pilot program over the past year with 11 institutions, including the University of Arizona, Miami Dade College, Dine College, and the California State University, Los Angeles.
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