ACE, Strada Partner in Supporting Faculty Development to Deliver Maximum Impact
Published: October 30, 2019

​​​​​As part of its ongoing commitment to supporting learners’ education attainment—and with generous support from Strada Education Network—​ACE has championed an effective teaching agenda to explore connections between instructional quality and student outcomes vis-à-vis faculty development and its impacts on teaching and learning.

Since its founding, ACE has been committed to promoting efforts that increase access and attainment to high-quality postsecondary credentials. Two focuses of this work are advocating for policies that enable greater student access and supporting institutional transformation through research and programs that build institutional capacity to support learners as they move to and through their educational pathway.

In support of this, ACE published case studies on effective teaching; white papers on student outcomes, institutional finances, and institutional commitment to teaching excellence; and an instructional quality return on investment tool. ACE created these resources to provide institutional leaders with information that would help them advocate for the institutionalization of teaching excellence and make strategic decisions about resourcing various student success efforts on campus. This includes equipping faculty of all ranks and appointments with evidence-based teaching practices. With these various resources, ACE established a critical linkage between presidents and provosts and directors of teaching and learning centers, whose ongoing work is often overlooked by higher-level campus leaders.

ACE also developed A Beta Faculty Development Center Matrix, which is designed to maximize the impact and usefulness of the future goals and actions for faculty development outlined in the white paper Institutional Commitment to Teaching Excellence: Assessing the Impacts and Outcomes of Faculty Development.

As intended by the principal investigator on the Strada grant, Steven C. Taylor, and the authors of the beta matrix – Catherine M. Haras, Emily Daniell Magruder, Margery Ginsburg, and Todd D. Zakrajsek – the tool served the important purpose of facilitating conversations between teaching and learning professionals and academic leaders, such as deans and provosts, about supporting a culture of teaching excellence and creating benchmarks to demonstrate the impact of faculty development on teaching practice and student and institutional outcomes.

Following its release at the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network Conference in October 2017, ACE received inquiries from several institutions who were interested in supporting further development of the beta matrix. The California State University Faculty Development Council is using the matrix as the basis for a landscape survey of educational development across 23 campuses in the nation’s largest public four-year system to assess the relationship between structure and resources and reach and impact. The matrix is also being used at a variety of teaching and learning centers, such as the Borough of Manhattan Community College, The Claremont Colleges, Columbia University, Lansing Community College, Palm Beach State College, and San Francisco State University.

The positive reaction from academic leaders and teaching and learning professionals led ACE and POD to collaborate in 2018 on the next iteration of the matrix. They solicited feedback from faculty development practitioners, department chairs, deans, and provosts to inform enhancements to the original beta matrix and created the next iteration of the tool: A Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Matrix.

A powerful tool for advocacy, the matrix is organized so that CTL directors and academic leaders can identify their development in 17 domains of practice across three levels that indicate institutional commitment to professional learning.

“Instructional effectiveness depends as much on a center’s organizational structure, resource allocation and infrastructure, and on the programs and services it offers, as it does on measuring and demonstrating the impact of its work on student, teaching, and institutional outcomes,” said Taylor, managing director of Ed2Work Solutions and former director of education attainment and innovation at ACE.

Importantly, the original intent of the beta matrix was for any similarly structured academic units, including centers for student success, service learning/community engagement, and academic technology, to advocate for the understanding of their impact and initiate more conversations with campus stakeholders.

“As do professionals in any organization or field, faculty continue to need support, guidance, and resources to achieve and maintain high levels of teaching effectiveness,” said Haras, senior director at the Cal State LA Center forEffective Teaching and Learning. “When centers are resourced appropriately with institutional mission and strategy, faculty developers are well-positioned as catalysts for professional learning to support faculty’s use of evidence-based teaching and cultures of teaching excellence. However, faculty development has yet to be regarded as a significant component of student success initiatives.”

Magruder, director of the California State University Institute for Teaching and Learning, added that for faculty development to be seen as a strategic asset to institutions, centers for teaching and learning must demonstrate effectiveness and impact of their work. “Centers must show academic leaders how the resources they receive provide a demonstrable return to the institution vis-à-vis improved student success metrics, such as retention, persistence, and success, and even impacts on institutional revenue, spatial planning, and student and faculty engagement. Without data to prove its effectiveness and impact, faculty development will likely struggle to have a regular seat at the table of institutional leaders. The matrix is a starting point for determining whether a center is structured and resourced for impact.”