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K-State Today

October 5, 2018

Kansas State University continues national initiative to support teaching and learning

By Mariya Vaughan

2017-2018 cohort with certificates

This year, Kansas State University continues a partnership with the Association of College and University Educators, or ACUE, to equip faculty and staff who teach for K-State First and across multiple disciplines with the instructional skills shown to promote student motivation, learning and persistence.

Faculty and staff who satisfy the program requirements, which complements the university's ongoing focus on equipping students to succeed both inside and outside the classroom, are awarded a nationally recognized Certificate in Effective College Instruction that is co-endorsed by the Association of College and University Educators and the American Council on Education.

The first cohort of certificate earners from K-State who went through the program in 2017-2018 were awarded their certificates and recognized at a ceremony in August 2018.

"By focusing on K-State First courses and gateway courses this year, we are trying to make sure our students have outstanding learning experiences at the very start of our students' college careers," said Greg Eiselein, K-State's Association of College and University Educators campus facilitator. "We want to create classrooms where early success lays the intellectual foundation for success from the first day of classes through to graduation."

"ACUE's course complements the existing faculty development initiatives on campus by providing practical teaching techniques that can be readily incorporated into your everyday classroom experience," said Yasmin Patell, teaching professor of chemistry. 

The Association of College and University Educators' courses in effective teaching practices are based on more than three decades of research that shows effective teaching improves learning for all students. Don Saucier, professor of psychological sciences; Traci Brimhall, associate professor of English; Julie Pentz, associate professor of dance; Christopher Culbertson, professor of chemistry; Kevin Wanklyn, teaching assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering; and Patell are leading three faculty/staff cohorts in 25 learning modules throughout this year, and are mentoring them in using these new skills in their classes. Each month, participants meet face-to-face to share what they have learned. 

"One of my favorite things about K-State is its climate that values excellent teaching and learning," Saucier said. "ACUE is a way that we can not only improve our teaching through evidence-based practices, but it also provides an opportunity for us to be part of a community of teachers at K-State who care deeply about the education and experience that we share with our students."

Aligned with the latest research in cognition and adult learning, the Association of College and University Educators' courses address more than 200 evidence-based teaching practices, covering how to design an effective course; establish a productive learning environment; use active learning techniques; promote higher-order thinking; and utilize assessments to inform instruction and promote learning.

Pentz continues to use what she learned.

"As a tenured faculty member, continuing to enhance my teaching practices is a priority for me," Pentz said. "ACUE's course in Teaching Effectiveness transformed me and my students in the classroom through community building exercises and Assessment and Student Learning Outcome development."

"ACUE is like teaching bootcamp," Brimhall said. "It was challenging to keep up last year, but every week I saw my classroom engagements improving and that motivated me to stick with it. I came back this year as a facilitator because my pedagogy brain was swole, and it was a transformation in my teaching I really wanted to help others achieve as well." 

"Even though I have had plenty of teaching experience, I am really glad that I took the ACUE course as it gave me several new ideas and techniques for keeping my students motivated and engaged in active learning," Patell said. "I have implemented many of the different teaching techniques into my own classes have no doubt that I have become a better teacher as a result of taking the ACUE course and my students have benefited greatly."

The Association of College and University Educators's Community of Professional Practice provides continued support for educators to grow in the scholarship of teaching through member forums, expert webinars, weekly newsletters, the "Q" blog and "office hours" with leading scholars in college instruction.

"Great faculty and engaging teaching are essential to student success. Our partnership with ACUE has been a great way for K-State to support our faculty and our students," Eiselein said. 

To learn more about the program at K-State, visit the website.

The Association of College and University Educators believes that all college students deserve an extraordinary education and that faculty members play a critical role in their success. In partnership with institutions of higher education nationwide, the association supports and credentials faculty members in the use of evidence-based teaching practices that drive student engagement, retention and learning. Faculty members who complete Association of College and University Educators courses earn certificates in effective college instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education. The association's Community of Professional Practice connects college educators from across the country through member forums, podcasts, and updates on the latest developments in the scholarship of teaching and learning. To learn more, visit acue.org.

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