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ACUE Focus: Helen Peters

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

More than 110 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 ACUE.

Helen Peters

Helen Peters
Instructor of Speech Communication, Department of Languages and Communication
Education: M.A. UA Fayetteville

1. What ACUE Cohort were you a part of?

UA-PTC ACUE Cohort 2020-2021

2. What do you teach and how do you think you benefited from the ACUE course?

I teach Speech Communication. I benefited from the ACUE in many ways, but the most impactful has been the reshaping of my teaching style to fulfill a different role in student learning. Like many of us, I grew up with teachers [at all education levels] who ran their classes with the following expectations: students are to read a long chapter, listen to a long lecture, ask no questions, and regurgitate what they can on a high-stakes test. As a student, I never did well in the “listen and regurgitate” environment, but instead thrived in classes with instructors who asked questions, listened, and provided prompt/effective feedback that guided students through the process of developing higher-order thinking skills. As an instructor, I’ve struggled to emulate the latter only to see my efforts fall flat and consume hours of my time. For this reason, I was incredibly thankful when I discovered the ACUE course helped instructors develop skills related to teaching style, active learning, and class discussions, as well as rubrics and feedback. Each of these topics helped me walk away from the course with tools and strategies for increasing classroom engagement and driving student learning, which has been the key to raising my retention scores and success ratings, meeting my FEP classroom goals, and taking my current teaching skills to the next level.

3. Best thing you learned from ACUE?

  • Preparing and mediating in-class discussions.
  • Identifying student needs and shifting teaching practices accordingly.
  • Being prompt and prepared as a form of respect to students.
  • Understanding, developing and accessing Learning Outcomes.
  • Engagement strategies for online classes.

4. Do you think your students benefited from you taking the ACUE course and if so, how?

Absolutely! After taking the ACUE course because I am using class time more effectively and providing quality feedback faster, creating a better learning environment in which students stay invested the entire semester. ACUE also helped me better define my personal learning outcome for every student: To skillfully articulate what they believe, why they believe it, and learning how to artfully articulate it, even if it’s not officially on my syllabus, I believe the benefits of the learning outcomes will last a lifetime.

5. What was your favorite module in ACUE?

As cheesy as it sounds, all of them. However, if I have to choose one, I’d say, “Module 4: Promoting Higher Order Thinking.”