In Their Own Words
José A. Donis
Professor, Humanities, Fine and Applied Music
Miami Dade College
What I expected to learn when I took the ACUE course was simply just incorporate techniques, and get over with the course and get my professional development points, but there was one thing that they implemented in the ACUE course, that we had to respond to other professors. . . . We had to fully understand an entry and not just respond to them and say, “Hey, great ideas. I love it. See you later.” No, we actually had to give honest feedback. If something didn’t work or if something wasn’t clear, we had to ask them, “Hey, this doesn’t seem so clear. Could you re-explain this to me?” I noticed that with working with colleagues who were also taking the course that I kept asking them questions to the effect of, “Could you show me that technique? How you used that technique? I know you teach a criminology course and I teach a humanities course, but I think we can do something interdisciplinary here.” That was the exciting part that was not expected. That’s something that I did not expect to learn taking the ACUE course.
The ACUE course truly made me feel that I was part of a community of faculty because we were engaging one another week after week, understanding why they implemented this particular technique in such a way and how it was effective or perhaps when I incorporated a technique and it didn’t work, so I had to look at other professors and their feedback and see maybe they can help me out. And it really did because some of my colleagues called me back on that and said, “Try that again but try it with this or try it with that particular idea behind it. Maybe that’ll help you.”
Using these techniques day after day, throughout an entire semester, you can’t help but see something really works. Prior to taking the ACUE course, the student feedback that I received was good. They were high marks. However, after the ACUE course, they were just excellent marks. Student feedback on my teaching has improved immensely from year to year. I have faculty feedback every fall semester and what I learned was—I took the ACUE course in 2016—in 2015, I had a range roughly 3.5, once a 3.94. After I took the ACUE course, the students who took the feedback at the end of that semester had nothing less than a 3.92. I went from a 3.51 low average to a 3.92 to a 3.98, and I think about that change, that dramatic change from one year to the next. Obviously, I would think that the various techniques that I implemented throughout the semester that I learned from ACUE have really helped in my achieving those particular high marks.
ACUE Interview, Spring 2018