ACE Releases Paper Examining Links Between Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Efficiency
March 12, 2017

Can improvements in instructional quality lead to better student outcomes and increased institutional efficiency and revenue?

A paper released today by ACE concludes that the answer may well be yes—and that further investigation of these important questions is warranted.

“There is a conceptual case, and some promising evidence, that an intervention that improves instruction while contributing to an institution’s bottom line is possible,” states the paper, Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Finances, authored by Jessie Brown, an analyst at the Educational Transformation Program at Ithaka S+R, and Martin Kurzweil, the program’s director.

In the paper, the authors develop a framework for understanding the relationship among instructional quality, student outcomes, and institutional net revenue; review relevant empirical research; and profile several institutions that have undertaken instructional improvement efforts.

“Because institutions are under increasing pressure to simultaneously cut costs and improve student outcomes,” the paper adds, “it is crucial that college and university leaders explore the complexities of the relationship between these two goals.”

Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Finances was commissioned by ACE as part of the Council’s collaboration with Strada Education Network, formerly USA Funds, to examine higher education instruction and assess the connections between quality teaching and student success. It follows a paper released in January, Unpacking Relationships: Instruction and Student Outcomes, that found effective college instruction leads to engaged and successful students who are more likely to be satisfied with their education and earn a college degree.

A session at 9:45 am (EDT) this morning at ACE2017, ACE’s 99th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, will explore the questions raised by the paper and discuss research and institutional perspectives on the relationship between effective classroom instruction and improved student outcomes and how the two may help lead to improved institutional efficiency. The 75-minute session will be held in Marquis Salon 10 on the M2 level at the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC, the site of ACE2017, and is open to all attendees and the media.

“This paper raises important potential linkages between effective instruction, student success and improved institutional efficiency,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “I am confident it is an analysis that will make a significant contribution to the work institutions are doing in this area and exemplifies why we are engaged in this significant work with Strada Education, which we believe will be of benefit to all of American higher education.”

Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Finances and today’s session at ACE2017 are result of a $1 million grant from Strada Education that is enabling ACE to conduct cutting-edge research designed to increase the understanding of what instructors can do to generate the type of learning gains that lead to higher attainment rates and help institutions meet their academic goals and produce college graduates who are attractive candidates to employers.

“Our support for this groundbreaking research reflects our profound interest in enhancing student success in college and subsequently in life following graduation,” said William Hansen, Strada Education president and CEO. “This paper strongly suggests that promoting instructional quality can potentially strengthen colleges and universities while also benefitting millions of their students.”

Other components in this initiative include two additional white papers that will highlight institutions that have implemented a scaffolded approach to faculty development and those that have embedded high-impact practices as part of a formalized structure to enhance the curricular and co-curricular student experience. ACE also will release a report later this year that examines the impacts and outcomes of faculty development within the institutional and programmatic contexts and establishes a quality framework understood by faculty development practitioners and institutional leaders.

Strada Education Network, formerly USA Funds, is a new kind of nonprofit organization that takes a fresh approach to improving the college-to-career connection. Through a unique combination of strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and innovative solutions, Strada Education Network advances Completion With a Purpose, building a more purposeful path for America’s students to rewarding careers and fulfilling lives. Learn more at and follow Strada Education on Twitter @StradaEducation.

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