Molly Broad: Teaching and Learning Centers “Vital” to Student Success

Teaching and learning centers play a critical role in national efforts to ensure effective instruction is at the core of student success agendas in higher education, writes American Council on Education President Molly Broad. 

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Molly Corbett Broad“In short, the role of university teaching and learning centers has never been more vital, and the need to help such centers and other faculty professional development programs employ new and innovative teaching tools and techniques aimed at reaching new types of students has never been more urgent,” Broad writes in a new Huffington Post op-ed, adding that ACUE’s innovative Course in Effective Teaching Practices “helps expand the reach of those centers and other faculty development initiatives taking place on campuses around the country.”

Broad, whose organization represents 1,600 college and university presidents, calls for a greater investment in high-quality faculty development that is focused on teaching. In the op-ed, she writes through the lens of her own experience as head of the UNC system, beginning with a landmark 1993 report and the systemwide changes that it spawned:

One outgrowth of that 1993 report was the establishment of annual Awards for Excellence in Teaching honoring an outstanding faculty member at each campus. This announcement continues to be greeted with considerable fanfare across the system, and certainly was an event that I looked forward to each spring during my 1997-2006 tenure as UNC president.

Of course, I also knew that selecting just one recipient at each institution for recognition is an extremely difficult proposition. Students at campuses across the UNC system and at colleges and universities nationwide learn valuable lessons every day from tens of thousands of outstanding and dedicated teachers. Skilled and effective faculty members are at the very core of the academic enterprise.

That is why I did all that I could to support faculty professional development initiatives during my time at UNC. For instance, some but not all UNC campuses operated teaching and learning centers dedicated to helping faculty members stay on the cutting edge of teaching techniques and how to best spur student success. When we secured state funding in the early 2000s that allowed all of the campuses to open such centers, that made an enormous difference and improved the quality of teaching across the breadth of the system.

Earlier this year, ACE and ACUE announced a major collaboration to embed excellence in instruction firmly within the culture of higher education. As part of the collaboration, ACE is recognizing faculty who complete ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices, satisfy Course requirements, and apply research-based techniques with an ACE-endorsed Certificate in Effective College Instruction. To date, ACUE has worked with more than 1800 educators from 35 colleges and universities across the country, including a diverse group of 11 founding partner institutions that ACUE worked with to research, develop, and pilot its Course in Effective Teaching Practices. (See our Badging page to learn more about ACE and ACUE’s Certificate and Records of Completion.)

In addition to promoting these efforts across its membership, ACE is also commissioning research to further establish the link between great teaching and student success. The work is part of ACE’s nearly century-old mission to improve access to postsecondary education and help institutions enhance student outcomes.

Broad is the latest higher education leader to call for the role of faculty and effective instruction to receive greater attention. At an ACUE Board of Advisors meeting this spring, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said teaching was “at the core of the educational enterprise.” Last month, Sue Henderson, president of New Jersey City University, and James Muyskens, former President of Queens College, penned an op-ed about redeploying faculty for student success.

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