MSU President's Newspaper Column

October 16, 2021 

Faculty commitment to excellence is a huge benefit to students

Wednesday, Oct. 6 was an important day at Mayville State University. Not only were we the host site for the Marketplace for Kids activities, which involved a large number of area elementary school students, their teachers, and chaperones, as well as entrepreneurs, business people, and others, it was Mayville State’s annual fall semester Quality Assurance and Institutional Improvement Day.

University classes were not in session, so faculty could devote their time and energy to essential discussion and collaboration within divisions, as well as a meeting of the Mayville State Higher Learning Commission Institutional Accreditation Committee. Professional speaker Willow Sweeney addressed faculty and staff on “Becoming Our Top 20 Selves,” which focused on the importance of Social and Emotional Intelligence throughout the morning.

At noon, a number of faculty members representing all divisions of the institution were recognized for earning a national credential, Certificate in Effective College Instruction, co-endorsed by the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) and American Council on Education (ACE) during a pinning ceremony. The pinning ceremony was hosted by the Mayville State Office of Academic Affairs and MSU’s ACUE course facilitators, Chris Gonnella and Jeni Peterson. MSU Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Tami Such spoke during the recognition event, commending participants for their commitment to teaching excellence and to ensuring that Mayville State students have the best education possible.

In the fall of 2020, Mayville State’s partnership with ACUE and the 25-week course titled Effective Online Teaching Practices launched. The purpose was to help prepare and credential faculty in the evidence-based teaching practices proven to increase student achievement and close equity gaps. As part of Mayville State’s Department of Education Title III initiative to support student success, approximately 30 Mayville State faculty members were selected to enroll in the course. The pinning ceremony on Oct. 6 signified the satisfaction of course requirements.

The 25-module ACUE course required participants to learn about and implement new evidence-based practices in their courses and reflect on the experience. Aligned with the latest research in cognition and adult learning, ACUE’s course addressed more than 200 evidence-based teaching practices, covering how to design an effective course, establish a productive learning environment, use active learning techniques, promote higher order thinking, and utilize assessments to inform instruction and promote learning.

ACUE’s courses in effective teaching practices are based on more than three decades of research that demonstrates that effective teaching improves learning for all students. According to independently validated research, students, particularly those who are underserved, are more engaged, learn more, and complete courses in greater numbers when taught by ACUE-credentialed faculty.

Course facilitator and Mayville State Instructional Designer Chris Gonnella was impressed with Mayville State faculty who rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to learn how to improve their courses even during difficult times when everyone was overwhelmed with the challenges related to the Coronavirus Pandemic. She said, “The courses provided a platform for faculty to collaborate with and learn from each other and they took full advantage of it. It was a joy and a privilege to be part of it.”

Comments made by participants upon completion of the course included the following:

“The ACUE course has been beneficial to me, my students, my colleagues, and my online classroom. Often others perceive online learning to be ‘less than’ compared to in-person learning and I believe ACUE assists faculty to see that one is not better than the other, just different. There is a place for effective online instruction. When online instruction is done well, we all reap the rewards.”

I extend my congratulations and gratitude to all who completed the course and those who helped to make it possible. The faculty will continue to learn about pedagogy and receive career-long support through ACUE and Mayville State’s Center for Teaching and Learning will provide continuing support to faculty to help sustain their use of evidence-based teaching practices. This is just one of many ways in which Mayville State is providing outstanding educational opportunities for students, setting them on the path for future success.