Institutions Should Support Faculty in Enhancing the Career-Relevance of Curriculum, Says New ACE White Paper
February 14, 2020

With more college graduates than ever embarking on unanticipated career paths, faculty and institutional leaders should be providing curriculum to students that will serve them beyond their specific fields of study and allow them to be better prepared for a changing workforce, according to a new paper published by ACE.

Faculty—the single greatest influence on student success—should be at the center of this work, states “Beyond Classroom Borders: Linking Learning and Work Through Career-Relevant Instruction.”

In an effort to maximize teaching effectiveness, academic leaders should consider how they support faculty to build their curriculum around evidence-based teaching practices, including techniques that allow faculty to embed career-relevant content and experiences into the teaching and learning environment. “A supportive teaching culture allows faculty to experiment with new teaching practices and refine their teaching based on reflection and student and peer feedback,” the paper states.

Steven Taylor, managing director of ED2WORK and co-author of the paper, argues, “Making the curricular experience more career-relevant is critical to prepare graduates to adapt and succeed in future work and learning environments yet to be discovered.” Taylor added, “Students can realize the optimal benefits of career-relevant instruction when faculty make explicit connections for students between the classroom experience and its application to civic, community, and work-based settings.”

This paper approaches the topic of career-relevant instruction first with a lens toward the aptitudes students need to develop to succeed in future work and learning, followed by critical elements that faculty need to enhance the career-relevance of their instruction. Finally, it delves into how academic leaders can support and position faculty to achieve greater career-relevance in the classroom.

Catherine Haras, senior director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Cal State LA and co-author of the paper, suggests, “Institutions play a pivotal role in making classroom instruction more career-relevant by preparing and supporting faculty as they implement new techniques that may at times challenge their teaching self-efficacy and professional identity.”

“Stronger linkages between learning and work can be achieved through a collaborative approach that engages faculty as influencers of a discipline’s relevance outside of the classroom and student success professionals as strategists to integrate career exploration and planning into the student experience,” says Sherri Lind Hughes, ACE’s assistant vice president for professional learning.

This paper is part of ACE’s work to advance effective teaching by disseminating research to higher education leaders about practices shown to improve student and institutional outcomes. As part of ACE’s work to scale the reach of effective teaching practices, ACE entered into a collaboration with ACUE to advance teaching practice through a scalable online faculty development solution.