For Immediate Release

Dawn Michele Whitehead
Interim Vice President of Communications

Seven Minority-Serving Institutions Chosen for Curriculum Redesign and Problem-Centered Learning Project

AAC&U Project to Generate Findings on the Impact of Problem-Centered Learning and Intentional Curricular Designs in Advancing Student Success
Oct 23, 2014

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today the seven minority-serving institutions chosen for the project, Advancing Underserved Student Success Through Faculty Intentionality in Problem-Centered Learning.  The project is funded by a grant from TG Philanthropy to expand AAC&U’s ongoing work to make excellence inclusive and ensure that all college students benefit from quality high-impact educational practices and meaningful assessment of students’ demonstrated achievement of learning outcomes.

The institutions chosen are:

California State University–Los Angeles (CA)
Community College of Philadelphia (PA)
Heritage University (WA)
Queensborough Community College (NY)
St. Edward’s University (TX)
University of Houston–Downtown (TX)
Winston-Salem State University (NC)

Part of AAC&U’s ongoing Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative, the project will examine the degree to which clearly articulated expectations for student learning and the implementation of problem-centered instructional strategies help to deepen student learning and increase underserved student success in college.  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 students’ demonstrated achievement.  The project includes a special focus on understanding effective practices for underserved student development and success in college.

“Minority-serving institutions have an important role to play in understanding how colleges and universities can improve success outcomes for underserved students. The seven institutions chosen for this project have demonstrated a commitment to student success, quality educational experiences, and assessment—each of which is essential for advancing real change in higher education,” said Ashley Finley, AAC&U’s Senior Director of Assessment and Research.

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 these competitively-chosen institutions to:

  • Develop problem-centered, high-impact learning experiences and assignments;
  • Create strategies for clearly articulating expectations and goals for learning;
  • Use VALUE rubrics to directly assess student work for demonstrated achievement of Essential Learning Outcomes, such as integrative learning and problem solving; and
  • Create faculty portfolios to enable instructors to document and reflect upon 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.

See: for more information about this project.

About AAC&U

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. 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 1,300 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, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education and inclusive excellence at both the national and local levels, and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at

About TG Philanthropy

TG is a nonprofit corporation that promotes educational access and success so that students can realize their college and career dreams. TG offers resources to help students and families plan and prepare for college, learn the basics of money management, and repay their federal student loans.