ACUE to Lead Major National Study Examining Impact of Quality Teaching in Gateway Courses

College students are struggling to persist through their “gateway” courses. A new $1.5 million study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will examine faculty impact on student success and equity through evidence-based teaching.

Last summer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked to learn more about the link between evidence-based teaching and improved student outcomes in college.

What followed was an exhaustive review of the ACUE impact, which included numerous and independently validated studies showing that students earn better grades and complete courses in greater numbers – more equitably with their peers—when taught by ACUE-credentialed faculty.

We took them on a deep dive,” said Scott Durand, ACUE’s Chief Executive Officer. “It was our honor to share compelling findings that ACUE-credentialed faculty close equity gaps and measurably improve student outcomes.”

The $1.5 million grant will support a major national study involving more than 1,500 educators nationwide to examine the relationship between evidence-based teaching practices, faculty mindset, and student outcomes. As part of this, up to 700 faculty will have the opportunity to earn the full ACUE Certificate in Effective College Instruction, endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE).

A Shared Mission: Evidence-based Strategies to Improve Student Outcomes

To dramatically improve student outcomes and ensure that race, ethnicity, and income are not predictors of postsecondary success, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation put students at the center of its philanthropic strategies. A guiding principle for the world’s largest charitable foundation is that evidence is essential for guiding improvement in student outcomes.

Durand said that ACUE’s evidence-based mission and shared commitment to measurably demonstrating impact has made the announcement even more meaningful.

“This major national study was granted on that basis, to further explore the transformative impact faculty can have on student success when equipped with evidence-based teaching practices and digital tools,” Durand added.

The study is being designed to expand higher education’s understanding of how Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Pell-eligible students enrolled in gateway courses can benefit from evidence-based teaching. Participating institutions include:

  • Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York
  • California State University, Northridge
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Ivy Tech Community College
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Ohio Association of Community Colleges, including Cincinnati State, Cuyahoga Community College, and Lorain County Community College
  • University of Hawai’i at Manoa
  • University of Houston

Passing gateway courses, which are required to earn college degrees, is pivotal to a student’s academic success. Yet too often it is where students encounter early challenges and struggle to persist.

Meghan Snow, ACUE’s Chief Data Officer, said that the study will have a specific focus on examining the link between evidence-based teaching and improved grades, higher completion rates, and closed equity gaps in gateway courses.

“With this new study, we can investigate these relationships in gateway courses—which are so consequential in a student’s academic career,” Snow said in a press release announcing the study.

Learn more: Review our 18 research briefs and partner impact stories showcasing how ACUE Certified faculty are making a measurable impact at colleges and universities nationwide.

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