April 21, 2019  

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USM’s Faculty Development Institute Grows in Popularity, Success

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Barely two years old, an innovative faculty development initiative at The University of Southern Mississippi has blossomed into a resounding success.

USM’s ACUE (Association of College and University Educators) Faculty Development Institute is an intensive, 10-week program featuring participants engaged in a subset of ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices, which focuses on research-based techniques for promoting active learning, improving assessment techniques, and designing effective courses.

“The program is flourishing,” said Dr. Kelly Ferris Lester, professor of dance and director of USM’s Center for Faculty Development. “The faculty fellows chosen by application are ready to dig deeper into the art of teaching. They rave about the effects that even small changes make in their classrooms.”

The recent Fall 2018 semester saw 10 faculty members complete the program. Another cohort of 14 faculty begins in the Spring 2019 program. Since the institute’s inception in September, 2016 a total of 40 faculty members have finished the ACUE Certificate in Effective College Instruction earning them the University designation of “ACUE Distinguished Teaching Scholar.”

The American Council on Education (ACE), as part of its nearly century-old mission to improve access to postsecondary education and help institutions enhance student outcomes, is collaborating with ACUE to dramatically expand the use of effective teaching practices in higher education. Faculty members who complete the program also earn badges and a Certificate in Effective College Instruction endorsed by ACE.

The program has been so well-received by faculty that the number of applications have exceeded the available cohort spots.

“We have certainly seen an increase in interest from faculty,” said Lester. “Most of this is credited to word of mouth from current and past participants. The faculty fellows can account for more engagement and overall success in their courses after completing the ACUE Faculty Development Institute.”

Lester notes that the Center for Faculty Development has expanded programming this year to offer more teaching development opportunities.

“We host teaching forums, new faculty orientation, the First Year Foundation series, one-on-one consultations, workshops and the Network of Eagle Scholar Teachers (NEST) – a monthly teaching circle,” said Lester.

The center has also launched the inaugural Faculty Leadership Institute which will begin this month with a cohort of eight. Last week the center collaborated with the Office of the Provost to offer the “Innovative Teaching in the New Calendar” workshop that included more than 65 faculty participants.

To learn more about the ACUE Faculty Development Institute and other programs administered by USM’s Center for Faculty Development, visit: https://www.usm.edu/center-faculty-development