Achieving the Dream Releases ATD Teaching & Learning Toolkit

A research-based guide to building a culture of teaching and learning excellence

Silver Spring, MD—Today, Achieving the Dream (ATD) released its inaugural Teaching & Learning Toolkit, a research-based and faculty-informed resource designed to support colleges as they strengthen institutional capacity in teaching and learning. The guide builds upon recent ATD teaching and learning initiatives – Engaging Adjunct Faculty in the Student Success Movement and the Open Educational Resources Degree initiative – as well as synthesized research and stories from ATD Network colleges. ATD added an appendix to address the upheaval taking place in the world as it was being prepared – from the COVID-19 pandemic to the murder of George Floyd following centuries of racial injustice.

“Our full-time and adjunct faculty must be at the center of colleges’ work to building cultures of excellence in teaching and learning,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Educators are our students’ primary and most frequent point of contact, regardless of whether this is in person or virtual. Now more than ever, we must invest in building institutional capacity in teaching and learning.”

A sharper focus on teaching and learning excellence is essential: this requires building and investing in a culture of teaching and excellence that produces stronger and more equitable student success outcomes. Strengthening support for faculty and staff, and engagement across all areas of a college’s existing structures are essential to building this new culture.

“Far too often, our conversations focus on everything except the quality of teaching. This toolkit aims to equip colleges with evidence, success stories, and the applicable tools they need to change that – and the culture around teaching and learning – on their campuses,” said the toolkit's co-authors Bret Eynon and Jonathan Iuzzini.

ATD identified four Cornerstones for campuses that have a culture of learning and teaching excellence: 1) Full-time and adjunct faculty use evidence-based instructional practices to foster student learning 2) Collaborative partnerships link faculty and student affairs professionals in shared efforts to cultivate learning and support student success 3) Educators join students as active learners in an accessible, empowering, personalized, and supportive academic community, and 4) The institution embraces professional learning for continuous improvement, realigning related expectations in hiring, evaluation, promotion.

The report is divided into five sections, plus the appendix, and uses the Cornerstones of Excellence for each chapter, which bring together evidence-rich research, sidebars of resources and case studies, and worksheets designed for teams to process the chapter’s information and develop an effective, tailored campus strategy.

  1. Evidence-Based Pedagogy & Practice: This chapter focuses on the growing body of research that demonstrates the value of evidence-based teaching practices, and highlights key active learning and culturally inclusive pedagogies shown to advance equity in student engagement, retention, and achievement.
  2. Supporting Student Success: This chapter focuses on holistic student supports, which are strengthened through collaborations between faculty and student affairs educators.
  3. A Community of Learner/Teachers: This chapter examines how to use high-impact professional learning to implement evidence-based practices developed in prior chapters, and how to strengthen across campuses.
  4. Strategic Action to Support Teaching & Learning: This chapter highlights institutional and systemic support needed for high-impact professional learning.
  5. A Hub for Innovation & Change: This chapter focuses on the role of Centers for Teachers and Learning and other professional learning hubs as a vital resource for supporting faculty in advancing evidence-based instruction.
  6. Appendix: Teaching & Learning in Times of Upheaval: The appendix represents an initial attempt to consider the implications to advance equity-focused teaching and learning in this new environment.

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Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 277 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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