ACE Releases Paper Exploring Intersection Between College Instruction and Student Outcomes
January 24, 2017

Effective college instruction leads to engaged and successful students who are more likely to be satisfied with their education and earn a postsecondary degree, finds a paper released today by ACE.

Unpacking Relationships: Instruction and Student Outcomes was authored by Natasha A. Jankowski, director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. It was commissioned by ACE as part of the Council’s collaboration with Strada Education Network1 to examine higher education instruction and assess the connections between quality teaching and student success.

ACE also will be conducting a free webinar today to further explore the paper’s findings and potential impact. To register for the webinar, click here.

The paper concludes that for students to succeed, they must be engaged in stimulating and effective learning environments. But for that to happen, “faculty need to help students make connections between various learning experiences and the end goals of higher education by supporting student-centered learning environments,” the paper notes.

“Instruction matters,” the paper states. “And higher education needs to provide support for faculty to help students attain outcomes.”

However, the evidence-based instructional practices that have been widely documented as effective in promoting better student outcomes are not widely used, the paper also concludes. It explores five areas of intersection between instruction and student outcomes:

  • Transparency: Students must have a clear understanding of where they are going as well as the criteria that will be used to assess that they have gotten there.
  • Pedagogical Approaches: Pedagogical approaches, such as high-impact practices and personalized instruction, are linked to enhancing student learning, involvement and engagement beyond simply making the coherence of the educational experience clear to students.
  • Assessment: Students need multiple opportunities to practice learning in a variety of situations to facilitate the transfer of knowledge.
  • Self-regulation: The active participation of students in their own learning is a necessary component of the relationship between instruction and student outcomes.
  • Alignment: The alignment of elements such as content, instructional design, pedagogical approaches, assignments and evaluative criteria is critical to successful learning environments.

“This paper shows the vital role effective instruction plays in student success, what type of practices can have a positive impact and the importance of building institutional capacity to support faculty,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “It documents a path forward that can lead to higher postsecondary graduation rates and help students and institutions meet their academic goals.”

“Quality instruction and faculty-student engagement are keys to student success in college and in life following graduation,” said Strada Education Network President and CEO William Hansen. “This research launches a groundbreaking initiative that will support enhanced faculty development and more effective classroom instruction, leading to better college outcomes for millions of students.”

Unpacking Relationships and today’s webinar are result of a $1 million Strada Education Network grant 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.

Other components in this initiative include a paper examining the relationship between instructional quality and institutional efficiency that will be published in March in conjunction with a session at ACE2017, ACE’s 99th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC; and two white papers that 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 benchmark report later this year that outlines common faculty development topics and qualities for evaluating the effectiveness of pedagogical training programs.

1Strada 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 www.stradaeducation.organd follow Strada Education on Twitter @StradaEducation.

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