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ACUE Focus: David Stafford

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

More than 153 UA-Pulaski Technical College faculty have improved their teaching practices through a program with the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE). This rigorous, evidence based, 25-week course engages instructors with independently validated research to improve student achievement and close equity gaps. ACUE Focus is a question and answer series where faculty share their experiences with ACU.

David StaffordDavid Stafford
Adjunct Faculty, Computer Science

1. Which ACUE course did you complete?

Effective Teaching Practice, Advanced Certificate

2. Was completing the course worth the time and effort you invested? Why?

As an adjunct faculty, the time ACUE took was worth it. I don’t have effective teaching role models or peers to ask questions of very often, so having a reference for best practices made me better at my adjunct role and brought the quality of the course to a higher standard.

3. What key takeaways or teaching practices impacted your teaching the most? Why?

Active Learning is hands down the most impactful way to help your students. Computer code isn’t the most interesting topic in the world but allowing students to create and make the implementation of that code their own, really allowing them to express both the creative and logical sides of their brain, allowed each student a pathway to enjoying the course objectives by trial and error and experimentation.

4. Can you describe a specific teaching practice or positive interaction you had with students as a result of your learning in the ACUE course? What did the student(s) say or do?

My video lectures made leaps and bounds improvements from what was introduced during the course of ACUE. I’ll let my student’s course eval speak for itself: “I really loved and appreciated the brief lecture videos Professor Stafford offered as help and guidance for each assignment, this way we had a guide through each assignment, and questions that we may have had likely got answered. This was really helpful because we got a breakdown of what was expected from our professor, this alone cleared a lot of the fog we may have found prior.”

5. As you know, each module in the ACUE course asks participants to implement practices in the classroom and then reflect on that implementation. Could you talk a little about what it felt like to try new things with your students?

Watching my discussion board efforts for interaction fall flat was as much fun as watching my student assignments flourish. Trying new strategies is interactive and allows greater investment of myself into the course. Students need a better classroom experience and striving to provide that to your current students (and the future ones) requires you to test your own assumptions about your teaching style and if it really is the best way to do it. And experimentation really is one of the spices of life.

6. Why do you think it is important to view teaching as a lifelong skill that you continually refine?

I personally teach and learn to some degree in every aspect of my life. Between managing employees and teams in my professional work, teaching students here at UA-PTC, and continuing my own educational journey I’ve been able to use these methods to help myself as much as implementing them for my students so they have a better experience.

7. What’s one word you would use to describe your experience in the ACUE course and why?

Validating. When implementing teaching strategies (I’m not a professor by trade) that have been thoroughly researched by scholars (I’m not a teaching researcher either) based on their data proven strategies, and seeing them work in practice in my courses, proves the efficacy of these teaching methodologies and strategies.