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.
Instructor of Mathematics, Dept. of Mathematics
Education: B.A. Hendrix College, B.S.E. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
1. What ACUE Cohort were you a part of?
UA-PTC ACUE Cohort 3, 2020-21
2. What do you teach and how do you think you benefited from the ACUE course?
I teach in the Mathematics Department, mostly Mathematical Reasoning. ACUE was a valuable reminder of the importance of being intentional with every aspect of instructor-student interactions. From examining how to set the tone on Day One, design engaging activities and lectures throughout the semester, and provide authentic, meaningful assessments and feedback, ACUE’s modules gave me the opportunity to reevaluate every aspect of my teaching.
3. Best thing you learned from ACUE?
I think the best thing was the value and importance of feedback. This was learned both directly and indirectly. Providing feedback and personal encouragement to students was one of our modules, and I saw the research supporting its importance in student persistence, retention, and achievement. But I also experienced firsthand the feelings of working hard on assignments, submitting them, and then eagerly awaiting a response from my reviewer. I realized how motivating feedback is from a student’s perspective, and that has prompted me to provide much more focused feedback to my own students.
4. Do you think your students benefited from you taking the ACUE course and if so, how?
Absolutely! I’ve had numerous comments from students, in person, through emails, and on my course evaluations, thanking me for providing thoughtful and detailed comments on their work. From my perspective, when students know an instructor is interested in their work and willing to invest time to help them improve, this leads to more motivation on the student’s part to achieve to their highest potential. Math anxiety is such an obstacle for students to overcome. It’s tempting for many students to encounter difficulty and simply quit. By avoiding superficial comments, but instead providing rich, detailed feedback, sprinkled with encouragement and concrete ways to improve, students recognize that they are not doomed to failure. They see their instructor is interested in helping them be successful.
5. What was your favorite module in ACUE?
All the parts of Module 5, Assessing to Promote and Inform Instruction and Promote Learning, in particular, 5C: Providing Useful Feedback, would be my favorites. I especially enjoyed the videos ACUE provides of faculty subject matter experts sharing the research and implementing various strategies in a classroom setting.