Some of Arizona State University's best and brightest professors are headed back to the classroom. Kind of ...
On the cutting edge of an initiative to help college faculty implement essential practices shown to improve student performance, ASU has around 90 professors currently enrolled in the Association of College and University Educators' (ACUE) online course in Effective Teaching Practices.
With university President Michael Crow already on board as a cosigner of the ACUE course, the decision to bring the program to faculty in eight of ASU's colleges was an easy one.
"ACUE always works with the American Council for Education and universities like ours," said Paul LePore, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "One of the challenges that schools on our scale face is preparing and providing opportunities for our faculty to reflect and refine their teaching skills. So they brought in experts from around the country and produced a 28-module course."
The 28 modules are one hour each and include over 180 instructional videos and the demonstration of dozens of effective teaching techniques.
It is modeled to be both very hands-on and easy to use, which has drawn rave reviews from those enrolled thus far. Jacqueline Martinez, an associate professor of communication, says that the model helps maximize and enhance the time she spends in her classroom.
"The active-learning approach to the course allows faculty to share and comment in real time on what is happening in their classrooms on any given day," Martinez said. "This accelerates the learning and insight gained by each professor. The course gives us space to reflect seriously on what we do in the classroom and provides an excellent array of techniques to improve the learning experience for students."
A domino effect of sorts helps improve that experience. As the students of the course work through the material, they are encouraged to collaborate with other faculty members to widen the effect they have on their learners.
"To make the workload manageable, faculty learners only need to implement one strategy each week," said Jacquelyn Lynch, a Barrett, The Honors College Dean's Fellow. "We then reflect upon its successes and challenges as we think about how might refine the activity for the future. After that, we can share those experiences with colleagues in our departments to broaden the impact of the work each of us is doing."
Faculty members from the College of Public Programs, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, College of Health Solutions, W. P. Carey School of Business, Barrett, The Honors College, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, College of Integrative Arts and Sciences, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are currently enrolled in the effective teaching course.
ASU had some of its professors participate in a trial run for the course back in December and over 90 percent of the enrollees said they found it valuable and would recommend it to their peers. Those results, combined with the positive feedback from this latest round of enrollees, has LePore confident ASU found a winner with this course.
"Our faculty are excellent teachers but they aren't necessarily trained in instruction as a part of their PhD programs," he said. "This allows us to be at the cutting edge in the way we deliver education to our students. The idea that we can partner with a group like ACUE is innovative and exciting."