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Cal Poly is a participant in a California State University system grant program in collaboration with the National Association of System Heads (NASH) and the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE). The grant is providing multiple CSU campuses with a year-long, research-based faculty development programming in support of effective instruction. At Cal Poly, the $100,000 grant supports 90 faculty in four cohorts to participate in a year-long curriculum of effective teaching principles and practices plus collaboration facilitation during the 2020-21 academic year.
A total of 100 faculty began in this program for the 2020-21 academic year, including the six faculty facilitators. Participating faculty are from all six colleges and hold positions that range from lecturers and new assistant professors to associate professors and full professors.
Each applicant identified a focus course for the program (a few courses are the focus of a team of participants) that fit with the cohort theme of interest:
- Those applying to the General Ed Cohort selected a specific GE course that they teach regularly and that, based on their experience, could benefit from improvements in design and teaching methods to enhance student success.
- Those applying to the Rigorous and Equitable Cohort selected a course that typically has higher level of students earning Ds, Fs, or Withdrawals, and/or typically has greater equity gaps as indicated by differences in grade point averages in one or more areas (e.g., underrepresented minorities vs. non-URM students, 1st Generation students vs. non-1st Gen, females vs. males).
- Those applying for the Learner Centered Teaching Cohort and the Early Career Cohort proposed a course that they teach regularly and that they see has potential for improvements in student success.
As a result of this program, almost 100 courses are targeted for revisions incorporating ideas and insights from the program experiences. Applicants were asked to indicate how many students they typically taught personally in their focus course each year, as well as the total number of students in all sections for that same course. When totaled, the improvements that faculty implement from their program experiences:
- Will affect 14,000+ students directly each year, through being in a cohort faculty member's course sections
- May eventually affect 36,000+ students each year, directly and indirectly, when participants share their course design improvements with peers who teach the same course
Participating faculty are in one of four themed cohorts. All faculty will progress through the same curriculum, and the connections and mutual support from collaborating with cohort colleagues with similar goals can enhance the learning experience and improve course redesigns.
Early Career Cohort
Purpose is to provide an extended professional development experience that helps establish a solid foundation for those early in their teaching career. Participant focus is primarily tenure-line faculty hired at Cal Poly in the prior three years (including Fall 2020 start dates).
General Education Cohort
Purpose is to strengthen student success in foundational GE courses for all majors and so benefit students early in their Cal Poly career. Participant focus is any faculty -- including both lecturers and tenure-line -- who regularly teach GE courses.
Learner Centered Teaching Cohort
Purpose is to provide an extended professional development experience deepening knowledge and skills for learner-centered teaching. Participation focus is faculty (lecturers and tenure-line) at any career stage and from any discipline seeking to implement a more learning-centered model of course design and instruction.
Rigorous and Equitable Teaching Cohort
Purpose is to strengthen student success -- particularly for diverse learners -- in the most challenging courses across campus. Contributes to campus support for GI 2025 graduation goals. Participation focus is faculty who teach courses with higher numbers of students with repeatable grades (Ds, Fs, or Ws) that can slow progress toward degrees and may contribute to achievement gaps.
The program design complements the online modules with campus-based facilitator support. Faculty participants in each of the four cohorts are supported by peer facilitators from the ranks of Cal Poly faculty. The CSU grant program provides funding for three facilitators for a 30:1 participant/facilitator ratio. For Cal Poly, the CTLT is funding three more facilitators to bring the ratio of facilitators to participants to 15:1.
Their purpose is to help their cohort members complete the program to earn the certificate while gaining solid working knowledge of core principles and practices of effective instruction. Their responsibilities include:
- Encouraging and motivating course-takers
- Leading and contributing to discussions
- Sharing pedagogical insights
- Helping course-takers with reflection assignments
- Monitoring cohort and course-taker progress
The Cal Poly implementation of the ACUE faculty development program incorporates design elements to maximize its contributions to several high-priority goals regarding evolving and strengthening the curriculum:
- Fostering a more inclusive and diverse campus
To infuse faculty participants' experience examining and applying scholarship-informed principles and practices with extra emphasis on inclusive instruction, all of the cohort facilitators have completed the CTLT's popular TIDE ("Teaching Inclusion, Diversity and Equity") intensive workshop. They bring the insights that they gained and the teaching methods that they learned from the workshop experience as resources to share with participating faculty.
- Strengthening General Education instruction and impact
One cohort is designated for faculty who regularly teach Gen Ed courses. When applying, each faculty member identified a specific Gen Ed course and provided a rationale for why it is a good candidate for a focus of this workshop experience.
- Improving graduation rates by reducing both course retakes and equity gaps
One cohort is designated for faculty who teach the most challenging courses on campus, as evidenced by relatively greater percentages of students earning Ds, Fs and Withdrawals (requiring retakes, which can contribute to course bottlenecks and delay progress toward degree completion). When applying, each faculty member identified a specific course that they teach regularly fitting the criteria and including historical DFW percentages and equity gaps for that course from the CSU's public Faculty Dashboards.
- Supporting new faculty to learn and apply current, effective teaching methods
One cohort is designated for new hires, with an emphasis on assistant professors fresh from their doctoral programs. Each identified a focus course that they expect to teach regularly, where they can implement ideas and explore approaches inspired during the experience and, over time, propagate those methods to all of their courses as their career unfolds.
- Supporting lecturers with opportunities to strengthen their teaching
Two of the cohorts (General Ed and Learner Centered Teaching) were designed to be excellent fits for lecturers, particularly the long-term, high teaching load lecturers that contribute substantially to the success of significant numbers of students.
- Enhance the campus's community of educators
On-campus facilitators will create regular opportunities for each cohort's faculty to connect with each other throughout the program. With parallel course projects, they will be able to exchange insights, ask questions, offer suggestions and motivate each other as they build relationships across disciplines and colleges.
- Promote long-term diffusion of the knowledge and insights over time to campus educators
In their applications, each participant pledged to actively share what they learn in this program with their peers, which will expand the benefits of this program across the campus beyond the 100 faculty involved this year. This will contribute to multiplying the value of these participants' investment in their professional development over time.
ACUE Curriculum Overview
This provides a more detailed overview of the curriculum provided through the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) on their website. The curriculum consists of five major units, each with five modules, addressing core principles and practices of effective instruction. All are online, and are complemented by on-campus facilitation. Additional resources are provided.