How Full-Time and Adjunct Faculty Use Evidence-Based Instructional Practices

This week, Achieving the Dream held its second webinar in a four-part series where attendees learned how faculty from the Network colleges that participated in the Every Learner Everywhere (Every Learner) initiative integrated adaptive learning into their courses, its effects on student success, and its role throughout the pandemic. Last week, ATD released the inaugural ATD Teaching & Learning Toolkit, a free resource that synthesizes research from the field, shares stories from network colleges, and offers practical steps to advance equity and improve student success through effective digital learning solutions.

This webinar focused on how full-time and adjunct faculty use evidence-based instructional practices to foster student learning, the first of four cornerstones the toolkit is organized around. Faculty from three ELE colleges—Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) and Lorain County Community College (LCCC)—and a four-year college, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), shared their insights. While there is often a misconception that adaptive courseware is an automated solution that requires little customization to be effective, the opposite is true: courseware must be adapted—intentionally—to the subject matter, the faculty member’s teaching approach, students, and more.

Adaptive courseware has been effective especially during the pandemic, participants agreed. Jerry McFadden, an assistant professor of accounting at LCCC said as he started to roll out adaptive courseware across more of his courses, students responded positively. Students can work at their own pace, and if they don’t understand a concept, they need to continue to work on it before moving forward.

“The best part about it is it helps them the material … especially if I’m not there, in the times we are in,” McFadden said.

Jeffrey Rodgers, a senior instructional designer at Tri-C, said using adaptive courseware is “very student-centered” and “more meaningful learning” because it can allow one student who is struggling focus on a particular concept, while another who has mastered it can move on. And since the pandemic began, adaptive courseware was an important part of Tri-C’s ability to move faculty who were previously solely face-to-face instructors online rapidly.

Dr. Timothy Huber, director and associate professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at UTRGV, said adaptive courseware was improving equity, especially in the pandemic, because it wasn’t just a one-way lecture from faculty.

“They are really focused on individual conversations with the students … combining adaptivity with the human interaction is really the key.”

In addition to the ATD Teaching & Learning Toolkit, this page in the ATD Knowledge Center, more resources can be found at Every Learner Everywhere.

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