Press Release

AAC&U Receives Grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to Support Faculty Development Related to Improving Course Assignments

Washington, DC—June 15, 2020—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today that it has received a grant of $370,499 from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to extend seven pilot faculty development programs. Intended to increase student achievement of higher-order learning outcomes, the programs are focused on improving the effectiveness of course assignments. The grant will also support the creation of a new tool for assessing the quality of assignments’ alignment with expected learning outcomes, along with an accompanying examination of variations in faculty expectations across student groups.

“We know that what faculty ask students to do in class assignments strongly affects how well they do it,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “AAC&U is grateful to the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for supporting this initiative designed to discover what makes for an effective assignment and how consistency in faculty expectations can help address equity gaps in student achievement.”

Through ongoing pilot programs at a set of private colleges and universities, faculty revise course assignments in response to the scoring of student work products using AAC&U’s VALUE rubrics. The process is then repeated to determine the effect of the revisions on student performance. The new grant will enable an expansion of the programs to determine whether the work the students produce in their junior or senior year exhibits improved critical thinking skills. The goal is to learn what makes assignments effective in fostering critical thinking skills and how faculty development can lead to improved assignments and enhanced student learning over time.

For information about AAC&U’s VALUE approach to assessment, visit

About AAC&U

AAC&U is the leading national association dedicated to advancing the vitality and public standing of liberal education by making quality and equity the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,400 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, faculty, and staff engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Through a broad range of activities, AAC&U reinforces the collective commitment to liberal education at the national, local, and global levels. Its high-quality programs, publications, research, meetings, institutes, public outreach efforts, and campus-based projects help individual institutions ensure that the quality of student learning is central to their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.