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ACUE Focus: Dr. Vondra Armstrong

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 ACUE.

Dr. Vondra Armstrong

Dr. Vondra Armstrong
Associate Teaching Professor of Business, Department of Business and Information Technology
Education: Ed.D. University of Arkansas at Little Rock, M.B.A. University of Tennessee, B.S. University of Tennessee

1. What ACUE Cohort were you a part of?

UA-PTC ACUE Cohort: Spring 2018

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

I teach Business courses. I really benefited from ACUE because I gained a lot of new pedagogical techniques, and I was able to put a "spin" on some techniques and assessments that I already had in place.

3. Best thing you learned from ACUE?

The best thing I learned was how to maintain student engagement. I believe in every faculty member's teaching journey there are times when we have our own teaching "lull" and we need a spark to get us re-ignited. I have always enjoyed asking students for their feedback before, during and after discussions and in-class activities to gauge learning. ACUE provided so many ways to carry out more effectively. I was able to incorporate technology as well with these engaging opportunities. I feel applying these different learning techniques help keep my students engaged and returning to class, which kept them motivated through the semester.

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

Yes, my enthusiasm to try the techniques we were using weekly and then document their feedback. I learned that explaining things to students and the reasons why I do the things I do let them know I was truly interested in what they were learning. I would later explain my expectation and how it connected with our learning objectives found in the syllabus. It is my practice to inform students what I am doing and why.

5. What was your favorite module in ACUE?

My favorite module was Module 5 (Using Student Achievement). This is where I would share the results of various in-class activities, tests, or quizzes when I used as polling or scantron card. What I found was that when I explained what I was doing and shared with my students that this was an interim performance review on how well I prepared them for what they learned then they saw how it benefited me and them. I could instantly see what percentage of students got the same questions right or wrong. My favorite student input idea was to have students anonymously complete the Start, Stop, Continue as we were going through mid-term. By then I would have tried a few techniques, approaches to class lecture and various in-class activities. Their feedback helped me to make modifications (within reason) and to help students succeed. I have read in various leadership articles that when there is participation there is commitment. So, when students know that their feedback is being received and they observe their teacher making modifications then I've seen.