Changemakers: Rutgers University–Newark Leading the Way for Student Success

“You are the changemakers,” extolled Chancellor Nancy Cantor in an impassioned call for an inclusive world that “brings more people to the table of prosperity.” In her remarks during Rutgers University–Newark’s 2019 Convocation, Cantor reminded new students that “those willing to take the risk of shifting tried and true narratives, those who dare to take a new and different lens on the world, themselves, and others” don’t do it alone. “They get help, collaborate, and find partners” adding that Rutgers University–Newark “is the place to find them.”

Chancellor Nancy Cantor


Pedagogy, Professional Development and Publicly-Engaged Scholarship

The university’s P3 Collaboratory supports excellence in teaching, high impact and publicly engaged scholarship and leadership development under a general rubric of faculty and student collaboration and co-learning. The P3 is bringing scholars together to engage in critical challenges facing the Rutgers University–Newark community and is promoting student and faculty success across the entire university.

The P3 Collaboratory for Pedagogy, Professional Development, and Publicly-Engaged Scholarship was conceived in 2016 by the university’s New Professoriate Study Group. It advances key priorities of Rutgers University–Newark’s strategic plan and enjoys strong support from Chancellor Cantor and university leadership. “As provost, I have to make a lot of decisions about investments,” said former Provost Jerome Williams. By comparison, “when we invest in our faculty, it pays off year after year.”

Investing in Faculty to Impact Students

Among the P3 Collaboratory’s initiatives, cohorts of Rutgers University–Newark faculty are earning their credential in effective college instruction through the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE), with transformative results. Psychology instructor Christina Zambrano-Varghese explained how the experience changed her sense of professional identity. For much of her career, she believed it was her job to “deliver knowledge.” But now, she’s prepared to “facilitate student learning.” She added that the bonds she formed with other faculty have made her feel even more connected to the Rutgers University–Newark community.

Thanks to the work of Zambrano-Varghese and other faculty changemakers, more Rutgers University–Newark students are succeeding. A recent study by the Center for Advanced Study of Education at the CUNY Graduate Center found that students were significantly more likely to earn A, B, or C grades in courses taught by ACUE-credentialed faculty than in comparison classes. Completion rates were higher and surveyed students noted professors’ use of effective practices. This study joins other recent findings of improved learning and narrowed achievement gaps from effective instruction.

Rutgers University–Newark’s P3 Collaboratory is at the forefront of an important shift in the country’s student success movement. As noted in a new paper by the American Council on Education, “efforts must involve those people on campus who have the most frequent contact with students: the faculty.”

Bonnie Veysey, director of the P3 Collaboratory and acting dean of Rutgers School of Criminal Justice agrees. “When we help just one instructor, he or she will impact 40 students in one class and then 40 students in the next semester and on and on.”

This insight, and the P3 Collaboratory’s support, has been welcomed by faculty. Rachel Emas, an instructor from the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration who earned her ACUE credential in 2017, shared, “It was the most important investment I’ve made in my academic career, hands down. There is no instructor on a college campus who doesn’t need more engaged students, or more evidence-based teaching practices, or more effective learning strategies. Every professor, every student and every university would benefit from that type of knowledge.”

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