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ACES Fellows selected for 2011-2012

Meeting the needs of college students today requires employing new student-centered learning methods. What worked even 10 years ago may no longer be effective. Armed with this understanding, Lamar University is continuing its commitment to redesign courses in ways that engage students as active participants in the learning process.

At LU the Active and Collaborative Engagement for Students program, or ACES, provides the framework for course redesign. Now in its third year, ACES operates a cohort system choosing a group of faculty members each year to work together sharing best practices as they restructure their courses and infuse them with active learning methods.

Recently, LU selected a new group of ACES Fellows. Cohort 3 of the ACES Fellows program comprises Sara Gubala, instructor of political science; Michelle Ozmun and Golden Wright, assistant professors of dance; and Amy Smith and Julie Wilhelm, assistant professors of English. The fellows were chosen through a competitive process. Each candidate submitted a proposal outlining a plan of action to redesign an existing course into one using methods that encourage students to take ownership of their learning.

Gubala hopes to help her students broaden their skill set to prepare them for life after college. Her redesign of American Government I (Political Science 2301) will include implementing a more collegial learning environment, team-based learning and enhanced uses of technology.

Ozmun and Wright plan to align all LU dance course offerings to build in knowledge and complexity from the freshman to the senior level. They plan to use a multitude of active learning methods in their separate classes and compare the effectiveness of each. For Dance Appreciation (Dance 2304), they plan to create a master class template for instructors and to write a textbook on dance appreciation, filling a void since current offerings focus more on dance history.

Smith and Wilhelm, who submitted as a team, plan to redesign English Composition II (English 1302) and implement shared learning outcomes, standards and grading rubrics. They will use peer evaluation, low stakes assignments and early interventions to remove some of the fear many students have in college writing courses.

ACES Fellows, who receive a stipend, make a commitment for two semesters. They will spend time prior to the fall semester completing their redesign plans as well as meeting monthly during the fall and spring semesters. In addition, ACES Fellows participate in a faculty learning community that allows them to share best practices and receive feedback from colleagues participating in a similar experience.

“Looking at the cohort of faculty, I expect an exciting year. We had a number of good proposals, but the faculty who were selected really set themselves apart with innovative ideas and a willingness to enhance their teaching abilities in order to improve student learning,” said Todd Pourciau, Director of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and Center for Teaching+Learning Enhancement (CT+LE).

All faculty considered for the ACES program must teach and plan to redesign courses that are part of Lamar University’s core curriculum. The goal is to move away from purely lecture-based courses, which studies have shown to be less effective, and to incorporate strategies that require students to learn independently and from each other. Previous cohorts of ACES Fellows have redesigned courses in the Departments of Biology, English and Modern Languages, Political Science and Psychology.

The ACES program is a component of LU’s Quality Enhancement Plan, in accordance with reaccreditation by SACS (Southern Association of College and Schools). The program is part of LU’s Center for Teaching+Learning Enhancement, which provides a variety of services to assist the LU teaching community in fostering a culture of high quality teaching and learning.

For more information on ACES, visit https://sacs.lamar.edu/aces/. For more information on all CT+LE initiatives, visit https://sacs.lamar.edu/ctle/.

For more information on becoming a Lamar University student, visit BeACardinal.com or call (409) 880-8316.