New Look, Same ‘Standard of Excellence’: What My ACUE Pin Means to Me

By Cindy Blackwell

I love my ACUE pin.  

Now, I realize that using the word “love” for a pin may seem a bit overblown, but given all my ACUE pin connects me to, love is a completely appropriate term.  

My ACUE pin is a connection to my commitment to teaching and student success. It represents the hard work I put into the ACUE Effective Teaching Practices course, which I completed during the 2016–2017 academic year. It is also a reminder of the relationships I developed with extraordinary colleagues at The University of Southern Mississippi who were in the course with me.  

A Symbol of My Academic and Professional Journey  

Like diplomas and regalia, pins and pinning ceremonies have a long and distinguished history dating to the 12th century, when the Maltese Cross of Service was worn by hospitaller knights during the Crusades. This symbol eventually evolved into the nursing pin, which was first awarded to Florence Nightingale in 1856 by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria for Nightingale’s service during the Crimean War. For nurses, receiving their pin is a rite of passage signifying that the wearer is ready to enter the highly distinguished and most trusted profession.  

The same is true for the ACUE pin. Those who earn the ACUE certification and pin have demonstrated the comprehensive knowledge and skills necessary to deliver instruction that improves student engagement, closes equity gaps, and increases student persistence.

“A Labor of Love”  

To earn it, however, you have to do the work. As anyone who has been through the course knows, ACUE is a labor of love.  

Its evidence-based learning design means all 25 modules guide faculty through high-quality and demanding learning experiences. Working from foundational knowledge through higher-order learning, faculty implement at least one proven teaching practice and critically reflect on it with feedback from expert reviewers. The quality and comprehensiveness of course content make it relevant to novice and advanced instructors alike. In addition, ACUE’s research-based Effective Practice Framework, organized around five core competencies, is built on a body of interrelated research that ties together all components of the course.

The Next Generation of ACUE-Certified Faculty

The ACUE pin is also like the nursing pin in that it has evolved — but only in design.Graphical image of ACUE's newly updated Credential in Effective College Instruction

Recently, ACUE’s pins and certificate were updated to reflect ACUE’s new branding. They honor ACUE’s historic student success mission while representing the next generation of ACUE-certified faculty. While I am proud to wear the first-generation ACUE pin, which shows I was among the first pioneering faculty to earn this national distinction, I am even more excited for the next generation of faculty who will be working to make teaching a central part of student success in higher education.

What has not changed is the standard of excellence behind the ACUE pin, no matter which generation of ACUE pin you earn. I love my first-generation ACUE pin and look forward to connecting with and celebrating those who are earning the new ACUE pin, knowing they are keeping the ACUE movement moving forward.

Dr. CindyBlackwell is an Academic Director at ACUE. 

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