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Pilot Program Emphasizing Excellence in Teaching Elevates NVCC’s Student Success Plan

Through partnership with the Association for College and University Educators

Increased student engagement, faculty who are more confident in their teaching, more relevant course material, and an improved student experience are many of the benefits that Naugatuck Valley Community College hopes to gain from a pilot program with the Association for College and University Educators (ACUE) which began in February. Partnering with 12 full-time faculty, three part-time faculty, and two faculty co-facilitators, the semester-long program offers an opportunity for the College to continue to promote quality instruction that addresses pedagogical skills and knowledge in designing effective classes, establishing a productive learning environment, utilizing active learning techniques, promoting higher order thinking, and assessing to promote learning. Using a module-based learning system, faculty in nursing, English, math, human services, psychology, first year experience, and business, are refining their teaching methods to help students succeed which can enhance NVCC’s already impressive number of graduation awards which have grown from 521 in 2007-‘08 to 1,371 total awards in 2015-‘16.

“I’ve enjoyed participating in the ACUE pilot and serving as one of the facilitators. The techniques to enhance active learning and clearly identify learning outcomes for my students has had a positive impact on my teaching,” said Kathleen LeBlanc, a professor of human services/pre-social work and a faculty co-facilitator for the program.  Steve Parlato, NVCC Associate Professor of English, who serves as LeBlanc's co-facilitator, echoed that he has observed similar positive impacts in his teaching and has loved learning from members in his cohort.

“Our faculty continues to participate in opportunities that help them enhance their teaching strategies. This forward thinking on their part is clearly one of the reasons many of our students succeed, reflected in our high graduation and success rates,” said Irene Rios-Knauf, Ph.D., Dean of Academic Affairs. 

As part of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) system, NVCC’s pilot program represents a system initiative in partnership with ACUE. ACUE was founded in 2014 by leaders in higher education to promote quality instruction at colleges and universities nationwide. ACUE’s comprehensive Course in Effective Teaching Practices prepares college educators to implement all of the essential practices shown to improve student outcomes. This facilitated, online course is offered to cohorts of faculty at participating institutions. Educators who satisfy course requirements earn a Certificate in Effective College Instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE). 

Aside from creating a better classroom experience, the research-based teaching practices that NVCC faculty will gain from the pilot program will help students stay on the path to graduation. This is critical to Connecticut’s future as the knowledge economy grows and earning a college degree becomes key to preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow. 

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