ACUE Pinning: ‘On cloud nine’ at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

In this essay, Barbara Rodriguez, Ph.D. shares reflections on ACUE’s partnership with North Carolina A&T University and insights from attending this month’s ACUE Pinning Ceremony. 

A group of 14 faculty stand together posing and smiling after the ACUE Pinning Ceremony at North Carolina A&T University

I’m still on cloud nine after attending North Carolina A&T University’s pinning ceremony to recognize and celebrate faculty who earned ACUE Certificates in Effective College Instruction. In addition to being a top-flight research university recognized for multidisciplinary excellence, North Carolina A&T is the largest historically black university (HBCU) in the country. 

Pioneering educators at North Carolina A&T

The 23 faculty honored at the event were part of North Carolina A&T’s inaugural ACUE cohort. Our partnership began less than a year ago, but the success and enthusiasm of these pioneering educators have paved the way for many more faculty to have the opportunity to join ACUE. 

Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, interim provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, delivers opening remarks to ACUE faculty at North Carolina A&T.

Earlier this year, North Carolina A&T launched three more cohorts as part of a national study 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. North Carolina A&T is one of 13 institutions participating in the study, supported by a $1.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation.

Putting students at the center 

North Carolina A&T’s Center for Teaching Excellence, deserves a lot of credit for the success of this partnership. From day one, Dr. Audrey Dentith, the center’s director, and her team have shown a commitment to putting students at the center of teaching. With support from institutional leadership, including Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, interim provost and vice-chancellor of academic affairs, ACUE is helping to scale these efforts.

Under Dr. Dentith’s leadership, newly ACUE credentialed faculty will now take active roles in working to grow the community of educators to support one another in the future. Many of the ideas that these ACUE faculty will be implementing were inspired by their work in “What’s Next Reports” provided in the ACUE course. 

Stories of impact 

My favorite part about attending ACUE pinning ceremonies is hearing directly from educators about the changes and impact that came from their participation in ACUE.

The author snaps a selfie during a break in the pinning.

The author snaps a selfie during a break in the pinning.

Dr. Marissa Dick, an ACUE Certified adjunct lecturer, shared one that showed how small tweaks to the way we ask students for feedback can lead to bigger changes. 

In the module on Using Student Achievement and Feedback to Improve Your Teaching, one of the practices that Marrissa decided to implement was the Stop-Start-Continue exercise, which she used to collect anonymous feedback from her students about how the course is going. She noticed that multiple students asked her to stop writing the learning objectives on the board in cursive. 

Marrissa was shocked. She had been writing in cursive for years, yet no student had brought it to her attention. When she asked her students why they hadn’t mentioned it earlier, they told her they didn’t feel comfortable saying anything. The Start-Stop-Continue exercise changed that. 

The small fix was that Marrissa began typing up the learning objectives. To ensure the learning objectives remained a prominent presence during classes, she invited students to write them out on the board. She said students enjoyed writing on the board, and it resulted in several students “wanting a turn” to write on the board.

Marrissa’s story is one of the many reasons it has been a pleasure to support this partnership.

Dr. Barbara Rodriguez is the Regional Director for Academic Programs for ACUE.

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