ACUE Chief Academic Officer, Penny MacCormack, Ed.D., speaking to a crowd of faculty and administrators celebrating their commitment to their approach to faculty development.

ACUE’s Dynamic Approach to Faculty Development

ACUE's Dynamic Approach to Faculty Development

Picture of by Penny MacCormack, EdD

by Penny MacCormack, EdD

Chief Academic Officer, ACUE

Faculty development plays a pivotal role in empowering higher education instructors to excel in their teaching endeavors. The Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) has recognized the unique challenges faced by instructors, who are experts in their subject matter but have had little and sometimes no formal preparation to teach.

With this in mind, ACUE’s approach to faculty development delivers two distinct offerings: Comprehensive Courses for Certification and Quick Study courses.

ACUE’s high-quality comprehensive certification courses provide a solid foundation in effective teaching, leading to the only nationally recognized certification in college-level instruction.

As for our new faculty development offering, ACUE’s Quick Study courses provide faculty with shorter, self-paced learning experiences that engage faculty in the new topics, practices, and innovative technologies impacting teaching and learning across higher education.

A college instructor demonstrating the benefits of a dynamic approach to faculty development by standing next to a student seated at a desk reviewing a notebook.

My goal here is to explain why ACUE has embraced both formats, and how together they offer faculty the varied types of learning they need to improve student outcomes and their teaching, while staying current regarding the new topics, practices, and innovations impacting the higher ed classroom and online courses.

The Power of Foundation: Comprehensive Courses for Certification

ACUE’s Comprehensive Courses for Certification serve as the bedrock of effective faculty development. These courses focus on the 25 essential topics outlined in ACUE’s Effective Teaching Practice Framework, endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE). They equip instructors with a full toolbox of evidence-based teaching practices in five key areas: 

The distinguishing features of the comprehensive certification courses include an emphasis on collaborative learning and a requirement to implement the evidence-based teaching practices in their own courses and reflect on the experience. Faculty embarking on this collective journey engage in rich discussions with their peers as they implement at least one practice per module. This format creates a supportive network of educators committed to excellence, while developing a solid foundation in higher education teaching and learning.

Faculty who become certified in ACUE’s Effective Teaching Practice Framework not only improve the learning experiences of students and their own well-being, but also help their institutions achieve key performance goals related to student success, including increased course completion rates, reduced DFW rates, improved grades, and higher retention rates.

The Quick Study Advantage: Flexibility and Timely Exploration

Recognizing the dynamic nature of education, ACUE recently introduced Quick Study courses to address emerging topics and technologies. These courses provide faculty members with condensed and flexible learning experiences that last approximately one hour. 

Quick Study courses allow instructors to delve into high-interest subjects at their own pace, leveraging interactive online activities, demonstrations, and expert commentary. For example, in the ever-evolving educational landscape, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force.

The AI Quick Study series ensures instructors gain the foundational knowledge and skills needed to efficiently utilize AI in support of teaching and learning, as well as help their students learn how to responsibly utilize AI to meet their learning needs and better prepare for their future.

These four brief, self-paced courses address how to effectively prompt AI, leverage AI in creating course resources, create both AI-inclusive and AI-resistant learning experiences, and, finally, empower students to responsibly use AI now and in their future.

ACUE will continue to work closely with our Board of Advisors and alumni to ensure that the topics we choose for Quick Study courses align seamlessly with the interests and concerns of faculty members and leaders across higher education. We plan to roll out additional courses focused on constructive conversations, critical thinking, and digital literacy this summer.

Balancing Depth and Agility: Choosing the Right Format

The choice between Comprehensive Courses for Certification and Quick Study courses boils down to the depth of engagement and the specific needs of faculty members. While comprehensive certification courses offer a full exploration of evidence-based teaching practices that provide a solid foundation, Quick Study courses cater to time-sensitive topics and provide flexibility in quickly learning a new teaching practice or emerging technology impacting higher education classrooms. Both options serve as valuable assets, ensuring that faculty members remain well-equipped and adaptable in the face of an ever-changing educational landscape.

ACUE’s commitment to faculty development through these two distinct formats reflects its dedication to meeting the evolving needs of instructors. By embracing this dynamic approach, ACUE empowers instructors to unlock their full potential, shaping the future of education through accessible, impactful, and forward-thinking professional development opportunities.

Exploring ACUE's Approach to Faculty Development

To learn more about ACUE’s approach to faculty development, visit

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Penny MacCormack, EdD, is ACUE's Chief Academic Officer. Learn more about her at