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TMCC Faculty Complete ACUE Training

Students raising their hands in a class.
Rebecca A. Eckland

TMCC English Faculty Martha Johnson-Olin, who was one of two faculty facilitators of the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) Course in Effective Teaching Practice for TMCC’s first cohort, received her ACUE Completion Certificate in 2017. Johnson-Olin is thrilled that TMCC faculty have access to the latest evidence-based techniques that educators are using to reach their students through the ACUE course. One example that she cites is the use of visual cues to communicate course information to students. “I learned to create graphics that enable students to see modules in the class visually, which helps them to understand the structure of the course better,” she said.  

These kinds of insights—which are based in research and are a part of the ACUE course—are enabling faculty to make innovative and effective changes to their teaching methodologies in the classroom. Last year, 46 faculty across all academic disciplines completed the ACUE Course, resulting in a 100% completion rate. This places TMCC’s first ACUE cohort well above the average completion rate nationally.

“The outcomes from our ACUE pilot project were above and beyond any of our expectations,” said TMCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Marie Murgolo. “The successful outcomes mean that we will move forward with offering the ACUE course as an annual professional development opportunity for our faculty. We're thrilled that it not only provides the best learning experience for our students but it provides professional growth and satisfaction for our faculty, which results in an overall more positive campus climate. Investing in our faculty is vital to the success of our students and the institution as a whole.” 

About the ACUE Course in Effective Teaching Practices

This intensive course is intended to support student success in the classroom by disseminating evidence-based teaching methods to prepare faculty to implement these proven approaches. To earn the credential, faculty must complete 25 modules, which address essential skills and knowledge that faculty need to be effective in the community college classroom.  Each module takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete, which includes engaging and discussing the module with colleagues, planning and implementing new techniques in the classroom and completing a written reflection about the module’s content. 

TMCC is focused on the latest techniques to reach its students; by adopting the ACUE Course, TMCC faculty are learning new ways of engaging students. “ACUE is growing across the country,” said Johnson-Olin. “The success of last year’s cohort speaks of how successful this course is. This year’s ACUE class is already filled with a waiting list.” 

Of the 46 course takers in the first cohort, 93% of participating faculty report that teaching modules were helpful in refining their teaching practice and that the content was relevant to their work.  Additionally, 95% of faculty reported an increase in their use of research to inform their teaching practices. Since completing the ACUE course, most faculty (on average) implemented 30 new practices and plan to implement 55 additional practices. 

The nature of the ACUE course has much to do with its effectiveness. Jacquie Carroll, also English Department faculty and who served as a second facilitator, said that the duration and structure of the ACUE course is key to the success of its cohorts. “The most time I have participated in or delivered professional development training is one academic term. However, with ACUE training, it takes one academic year to participate, and that makes a difference. As instructors, we know that just because we may have been exposed or introduced to a pedagogical idea in a workshop or professional development, doesn’t mean we would remember to implement it in class, and then evaluate it to see how it worked for us and our students.” 

ACUE Creates Community Among Faculty

In addition to learning about innovative teaching practices that require faculty to only make small changes to their classes, the course fosters a vibrant community among participating faculty to talk about what practices work, or don’t work, and why. “ACUE really allows us to exchange ideas, to think about a student’s experience across the entire college, and not just in our specific classes,” said Johnson-Olin. 

The course encouraged faculty to reflect and to discuss each pedagogical strategy. This led to discussions between faculty from different departments and divisions...which, in turn, invited instructors to think about students holistically, across different divisions, and not just the student in the isolated setting of their classroom. 

“I have enjoyed...faculty reflect[ing] on how some of these strategies make a lot of sense, and at the end of the day required them to make only small changes to implement in their respective classrooms,” said Carroll. “ACUE makes you practice what it preaches, and that is what makes it so effective.”

For more information about the ACUE Course, contact TMCC’s Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs at 775-673-7090.