Read reflections from Ball State faculty who completed ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices.
Beginning in 2020, the Division of Online and Strategic Learning has supported a group of Ball State faculty, selected through an application process, to complete ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices. Delivered asynchronously through Canvas, this course engages faculty in content and activities in 4 main areas:
- Creating an Inclusive and Supportive Learning Environment
- Promoting Active Learning
- Inspiring Inquiry and Preparing Lifelong Learners
- Designing Learner-Centered and Equitable Courses
Here is how Director of Faculty Engagement, Kathleen Jacobi, sees this course fitting into Ball State’s faculty development:
“ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices compliments many of the themes and interactions employed throughout Ball State’s faculty development programming. Participants, referred to as Faculty Learners, join a cohort of colleagues representing a cross-section of disciplines and teaching experience. They engage with the content through viewing, reading, and application. Interaction with peers occurs both online and in-person as they reflect on their experiences implementing strategies and techniques outlined in the modules. Since February of 2020, over 60 instructors have earned the Credential in Effective College Instruction.”
I completed this course in Academic Year 22-23 and asked Ball State University faculty in my cohort to reflect on their experience. Below are their thoughts on how the experience has helped them innovate their teaching. You’ll read about a variety of teaching practices, including:
- How to open get off to a fast start on Day 1
- Using “start-stop-continue” to gather meaningful student feedback
- Closing out classes with accountability
Meet the Faculty Contributors
Dr. Ruth Jefferson is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Ball State University, working with current and future teachers. She has conducted research primarily in the areas of Response to Intervention (RTI/MTSS), evidence-based practices in reading, at-risk youth, and higher education/community engagement Ruth holds many teaching and administrative certifications, most notably in the areas of reading, learning disabilities, mild disabilities, elementary education, and special education administration. She has extensive experience in PreK-12 education, both in teaching and in administration, and discovered early in her career a passion for helping reluctant readers become avid ones.
Chris Wilkey is a three-time Ball State University alum who has come back to teach the Cardinals of the future. In addition to teaching digital marketing and sales, Chris manages the Center for Professional Selling. In this role, he connects students directly with industry partners for engaging and meaningful interactions and connections.
Jennifer Hill teaches anatomy and physiology courses at Ball State University. She has several decades of teaching experience in biology, health, and education courses. Lifelong learning is very important to Jennifer, as is improving the learning experience for her students.
Why did you decide to participate in the ACUE course?
Ruth: I am a life-long teacher and life-long learner. I am always looking for ways to improve and update my pedagogy and the Effective Teaching Practices course through ACUE sounded like something that would be practical and based on current standards in our profession.
Chris: I decided to participate in the ACUE course for my students. I want to be the best in the classroom and I know that it takes continuous improvement to do so. As a Ball State alum, I want to keep up the quality and the reputation of the education at Ball State for future generations.
Jennifer: I chose to participate in the course to learn some techniques to help me improve connection with my students in large group classes.
What has the ACUE course prompted you to reconsider in your teaching practices?
Chris: The whole dang thing. Each time I did a module, I started this whole “what do I even know about teaching” craziness. And it was a good thing. I was already doing some of the things mentioned in the course, but it was nice to see the logic behind it.
What have you implemented from the ACUE course, and how did it go?
Chris: The one that jumps to my mind right away is the way I adjusted my first week of classes. Instead of having a day to review the syllabus, I’m building lessons that starts day one and gets the class active and involved right away. The reason I changed my course was my own experience at Ball State. I always thought the first week was wasted when we were just reading a syllabus. By putting content front and center the first week, my students are engaged and connected right away. In my classes this past semester, I had a stronger connection with the students because of this switch.
Author’s Note: Chris has kindly shared some student reflections after the first week. View Chris’s student reflections here.
Jennifer: One thing which I implemented from the ACUE course which instantly made a huge difference was doing a “start-stop-continue” survey a few weeks into my classes, long before student evaluations are collected. Basically asking the students what they would like to have added to the course (start), what is not working well (stop), and what is going great (continue). This survey gave me immediate information from a student’s point of view of whether things were working and allowed me to adjust coursework before the class could derail.
What has been your biggest challenge when implementing practices from the ACUE course?
Chris: Time and more time. There are so many other things I would like to work into my classes that I learned from ACUE, but I just need to have more time to do it. I took tons of notes and I hope to start adding more things into my classes over the summer and the coming semesters.
Jennifer: The biggest challenge has been fitting some really great ideas into classes which are often too short in terms of face-to-face meeting times.
What’s something surprising you learned from the ACUE course?
Ruth: I guess the most surprising thing that I learned is how many of the things I am already (at least partially) implementing! It was encouraging to know that many of my practices are based in current research and just needed some simple updating. I think this may be a benefit from the ILS training that I participated in a few years ago. This new ACUE course was a logical and effective next step!
Chris: This is going to sound strange, but I was surprised that this wasn’t a requirement for all of the professors at BSU. We spend so much time talking about teaching, service, and research and rarely do any training on teaching. I learned so much and I feel like every professor could benefit from this course.
What is your biggest takeaway from the ACUE course?
Ruth: I think the word that kept appearing in my reflections was “intentionality”. In addition to careful planning, I rely on my intuition and experience as I present to and work with students. I plan to continue being as flexible as possible as it brings a spontaneous aspect to our classes together. However, I also plan to be more intentional about some things, particularly class closings and accountability. Ideas for intentionally planning the CLOSINGS as well as the CONTENT really spoke to me!
Chris: Never stop learning. If not for yourself, do it for your students (and possibly their future students). And there is a right way to teach and it’s not what most professors practice on a regular basis.
Jennifer: My biggest take away was that this is a course which was very much worth my time and that every instructor can learn something valuable from it. I would recommend it to seasoned faculty, as well as to people new to college teaching. We simply are not taught the concepts presented in this course before we are placed in the classroom, and we all have something to learn to make classes better for our students. The course allows you to interact with some great people at BSU who also care about student learning.
Special thanks to Ruth Jefferson, Chris Wilkey, and Jennifer Hill for contributing. If you’re interested in participating in the ACUE Course in Effective Teaching Practices, be on the lookout for more information through Canvas announcements.
How do you reflect on your teaching practices? Let us know in the comments below.