For Immediate Release

David Tritelli
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-888-0811 (office)

New Project Will Engage Minority-Serving Institutions to Research Effect of Faculty Intentionality in Problem-Centered Educational Practices on the Success of Students Who Have Historically Been Underserved in Higher Education

Grant from TG Philanthropy Builds on Prior Research and Will Generate Findings on the Role of Problem-Centered Curricular Designs in Advancing Student Success

Aug 4, 2014

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today that it has received a grant from TG Philanthropy to expand AAC&U’s ongoing work to make excellence inclusive and ensure that all college students—including, in particular, those attending minority-serving institutions—benefit from proven high-impact educational practices.

Part of AAC&U’s ongoing Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative, the project will examine the degree to which greater faculty intentionality in clearly articulating expectations for student learning and implementing more problem-centered instructional strategies can help to deepen student learning and increase student success.  The project builds upon existing research on intentional and effective classroom strategies, high-impact educational practices and programs, and assessment approaches that use rubrics to evaluate levels of students’ demonstrated achievement.  The project includes a special focus on understanding effective practices for underserved students’ development and success in college.

"We are confident that this initiative, with the help of institutions committed to student success, will advance a deeper and more nuanced understanding of student engagement and learning," said Kristin Boyer, TG's director of philanthropy. "We see the potential for this study to inform institutional policies and practices that lead to improved learning outcomes and higher completion rates for all students, and we are delighted to be a part of this work."

Through a competitive application process, six minority-serving institutions will be selected to join the project for the period beginning September 2014 through December 2015.  Under the leadership of AAC&U researchers, Ashley Finley, Senior Director of Assessment and Research, and Tia McNair, Senior Director for Student Success, the project will work with teams of faculty at selected institutions to:

  • Develop problem-centered, high-impact learning experiences;
  • Create strategies for clearly articulating expectations and processes for learning;
  • Use rubrics to directly assess student work for demonstrated achievement of such essential learning outcomes as integrative learning and problem solving; and
  • Create faculty portfolios to document effective teaching practices.

AAC&U is partnering in this research with Dr. Mary-Ann Winkelmes, AAC&U senior fellow and Coordinator of Instructional Development and Research and the Director of the Transparency in Teaching and Learning Project at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

A formal RFP will be issued in early August for the selection of campuses.