Report: Faculty development courses raise educator and student achievement

Overall, teachers became more confident and enthusiastic about their ability to teach. This leads ACUE to believe these traits will further perpetuate faculty's inclination to raise their own bar. 

Your faculty may be made up of world-renowned professors, but that doesn’t mean students are grasping the material. Unless those educators are naturally talented, you may want to consider enrolling them in a faculty development course if they are student-facing. One new report proves the efficacy of doing just that.

A new study by the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that faculty who enrolled in developmental courses experienced a resounding growth in their confidence and trust in themselves as effective educators. Consequently, their positive development provided preliminary evidence that students’ academic achievement benefited.

For the study, ACUE asked 550 faculty members across 10 institutions who had taken ACUE’s Effective Teaching Practice Framework Certification to respond to a self-survey from Jan. 2022 to May 2023. Another 1,000 faculty members from the same institutions were asked to do the same to provide a comparison. Students from both groups were also surveyed.

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The survey aimed to monitor faculty and student growth across two categories: self-efficacy and mindset.

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in themselves, specifically in executing a task successfully. Mindset relates to an individual’s belief in developing positive personal attributes through effort, practice and effective strategizing. Ultimately, faculty and students who demonstrate high self-efficacy and a positive mindset are resilient, privy to challenge and more successful academically.

As a result of the faculty development program, faculty became more confident in their ability to teach, engage and motivate students in person and online. They also became more nimble in adapting their teaching style based on gauging student understanding, achievement and feedback.

Overall, teachers became more confident and enthusiastic about their ability to teach. This leads ACUE to believe these traits will further perpetuate faculty’s inclination to raise their own bar.

Faculty weren’t the only ones to think their teaching style had improved. More importantly, responses from the student survey illustrated an increase in their academic self-efficacy from the start to the end of the semester. It’s as though teachers’ newfound confidence and enthusiasm rubbed off on them.

“The increases observed in these constructs underscore the importance of targeted faculty development initiatives in promoting effective teaching practices and fostering a growth-oriented mindset among faculty members,” wrote the report’s authors.

Future research from ACUE aims to examine students’ academic performance, such as their grades and completion rates, to truly assess whether faculties’ and students’ perceptions of increased beliefs in themselves reflect student performance.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

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