Blue overlay background of three adult students exiting campus building. University of Arkansas – Pulaski Tech and ACUE logo above text: Grades and Passing Rates Up, DFWs Down, with Greater Impacts for Black and Latino Students, through Quality Teaching at UA Pulaski Technical College

Stronger, More Equitable Achievement at UA – Pulaski Technical College through Quality Teaching

What kind of impact can a campus-wide investment in quality teaching have on student success?

Today, students at the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College (UA-PTC), are significantly benefiting from the two-year technical college’s all-out focus on quality instruction, according to new research published by ACUE and UA-PTC. 

Using rigorous methods to isolate the effects of better teaching, the research report consists of two separate analyses and examines course outcome data for more than 28,500 non-unique student enrollments from 2017 to 2019.  The findings: students taught by ACUE faculty passed their courses, earned better marks, and received fewer DFW grades in significantly higher rates than students in course sections taught by non-credentialed faculty. They also show that UA-PTC students in ACUE faculty courses experience stronger equity, with an even greater impact for Black and Latino students. 

Evaluating the efficacy of faculty development and its impact on student outcomes is a core part of how ACUE partners with colleges and universities nationwide. To date, ACUE researchers and institutional partners have published 21 reports on the results of their analyses. The UA-PTC findings further confirm numerous independently validated studies demonstrating better outcomes for students taught by ACUE Certified faculty. 

“The data proves it works.”

To date, 98% of full-time UA-PTC faculty have earned the full ACUE Certificate, the only nationally-recognized college teaching credential endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE). 

A student in a studio spray paints a large white metallic slab using industrial equipment.

Located in North Little Rock, Arkansas, UA-PTC plays a key role in the education and workforce training pipeline in Central Arkansas. One of Arkansas’s largest institutions of higher education, UA-PTC serves thousands of students who seek job-ready skills in the state’s in-demand professions: allied health, technical sciences, construction trades, advanced manufacturing, automotive technology, and many others.

For outgoing Chancellor Margaret Ellibee, who has led UA-PTC since 2012, the findings validate the institution’s strategic investments in student success. 

“Like so many community colleges across the country, we’ve had to quickly transform ourselves to retain more students and keep them engaged,” said Ellibee, who will retire at the end of June after nearly four decades working in colleges and universities across the country.  “As our top priority, quality teaching has been central to how we are breaking down barriers that stand in the way of student success for all our students — and the data proves it works.”

“Quality teaching is transformative.”

In UA-PTC’s strategic plan, high-quality professional learning and development for faculty and staff are top student success priorities. ACUE’s online, cohort-based credentialing program has been a key driver of this mission, providing impactful opportunities at scale. 

Chancellor Ellibee has been a leading voice on student success strategies across the 22 community colleges in Arkansas. UA-PTC Provost Summer DeProw noted that having support at the very top of the institution has helped cultivate a culture of professional learning.

Through UA-PTC’s ACUE Fellows program, a growing chorus of ambassadors is taking up the torch to build on that momentum. On social media, UA-PTC shares special announcements for newly credentialed faculty, which are amplified by campus and faculty leaders. This year, ACUE Certified educators KiKi Heintz and Dr. Richard Moss helped launch the ACUE Focus newsletter, a weekly publication that highlights ACUE Certified faculty and their experiences with the program. 

Scott Durand, ACUE’s CEO, underscored the connection between quality instruction and student success. The more faculty are equipped with evidence-based teaching practices, the more students “will be able to experience deep learning and engagement that can set them on a path for career success,” said Durand, who credited UA-PTC’s leadership. “Quality teaching is transformative, and we applaud UA-PTC’s leadership for making it the core of their student success agenda, leading to stronger and more equitable outcomes.” 

“A clear return on investment”

Provost Summer DeProw said that ACUE is helping UA-PTC advance institutional strategies in a variety of ways: 

  • Corequisite course design for math and English as a Strong Start to Finish partner site
  • Training faculty and leadership in evidence-based teaching and learning practices for English corequisite courses
  • Securing workforce grant and funding opportunities
  • Faculty and staff hiring and recruitment

In a culture that has long prioritized disciplinary or industry expertise, DeProw says that greater student success requires a greater focus on teaching craft. 

“There’s a lot of talk around training faculty to become experts in their fields, but we never teach them how to teach,” said DeProw. “At UA-PTC, we’re changing that by investing in ACUE programs to reach every faculty member to the benefit of every single student. The data makes it clear: we’ve seen a clear return on investment for our students’ futures.”

‘Being an effective teacher’ 

Joe McAfee, who teaches electronics and other technical courses at UA-PTC, has nearly three decades of experience working in manufacturing and controls engineering. With another 20 years of technical instruction, McAfee wasn’t sure what he’d get out of ACUE. 

“I had always thought of myself as an effective teacher before ACUE, but taking the course helped me realize just how much I didn’t know,” McAFee wrote in an ACUE Focus newsletter earlier this year. Among the changes he says he was able to immediately implement into his teaching were: 

  • Building more engaging syllabi
  • Designing and implementing low-stakes quizzes to assess progress
  • Using effective rubrics
  • Teaching “just-in-time” math skills and concepts for review 

“In the past, I’d taken several of the online courses that Pulaski Tech had offered for improving instructional skills, but ACUE was by far the most comprehensive and applicable of all,” said McAfee. “Although experience in industry can make one a subject matter expert, that is very different from being an effective teacher.” 

To learn more about how to bring ACUE programs to your course or campus, please visit or contact our partnerships team at [email protected]