San Jacinto College launches new program to strengthen student success

Jul 11, 2022Amanda Fenwick

120 faculty to develop evidence-based teaching practices to measurably improve student outcomes


PASADENA, Texas — This fall semester, San Jacinto College is launching a partnership with the Association of College and University Educators, the leader in student success and equity through quality instruction, to equip faculty with evidence-based teaching practices shown to improve student engagement, increase persistence, and close equity gaps.

Faculty who meet program requirements become Association of College and University Educators-certified, earning a certificate in effective college instruction, the only nationally recognized higher education teaching credential endorsed by the American Council on Education.

"We have been looking for ways to address our equity and social justice agenda, as well as craft instructional strategies that engage students in new, inclusive ways and that re-think course content, textbooks, and supplemental course materials in the context of equity, diversity, and inclusion," said Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College deputy chancellor and College president. "We now need to think more deeply about the barriers our students face and be proactive in assisting them in overcoming those barriers. Often this means we must remove the barriers, and the Association of College and University Educators is helping us do just that. We had looked at other products and professional development, but we were extremely impressed with what the association had to offer. Once we had an initial cohort, which included faculty and leaders and heard the positive feedback, we felt the association was the vehicle that could advance our agenda. We are the caretakers of our students' hopes and dreams, and we take that charge very seriously."

San Jacinto College faculty will participate in a 25-week course titled "Effective Teaching Practices," developing core competencies across 25 modules outlined in the Association of College and University Educators' Effective Practice Framework. Based on more than three decades of research, faculty will gain foundational knowledge, implement evidence-based teaching practices, reflect on their implementation, and refine their practice. Numerous independently validated impact studies show that students learn more and that equity gaps close when taught by association-certified faculty.

For the fall cohort, the College plans to include faculty members who teach math and English, technical courses, as well as those who may teach dual credit or developmental education courses, in the "Effective Teaching Practices" course. Association of College and University Educators' courses address over 200 evidence-based teaching practices, covering how to design an effective course, establish a productive learning environment, use active learning techniques, promote higher order thinking, and utilize assessments to inform instruction and promote learning.

"This course experience will equip our faculty with the teaching skills and knowledge they need to take student learning to new levels," said Dr. Michelle Cantu Wilson, director of teaching and learning initiatives and special projects at San Jacinto College. "As a college, we believe that to meet our commitment to student readiness, our instructional efforts must be rooted in evidence-based, equity-promoting practices."

In fall 2021, 82 San Jacinto College instructors and staff participated in an eight-week Association of College and University Educators program, successfully completing a microcredential in Inclusive Teaching for Equitable Learning. The course equipped faculty and non-instructional staff, including San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, with proven strategies to create a more equitable and just learning environment. A College-wide panel discussion was held in spring 2022 to review course takeaways and to share the course experience with colleagues.

For Dr. Eddy Ruiz, assistant vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusivity, it was important for him to earn the Association of College and University Educators microcredential because it examines bias, microaggressions, stereotype threat, and imposter syndrome.

"These topics and skillsets accompanied by the training are not known by all instructors or have not been practiced previously," Ruiz said. "The microcredential clarifies assumptions and beliefs that we may have previously held while advancing inclusive and equitable teaching philosophies and strategies. When cultural assets are acknowledged, an anti-deficit approach is adopted, identities and histories are validated, the institution and community benefit due to increased student persistence and graduation rates."

Last month, the Association of College and University Educators and the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College published a research study that showed significantly more students passing courses, fewer receiving DFW grades, and higher average course grades when taught by association-certified faculty. Black and Latino students experienced even greater gains. A series of longitudinal studies at the University of Southern Mississippi found first-year student retention was 3.7 percentage points higher, in addition to stronger achievement and more equitable outcomes, among students taught by Association of College and University Educators faculty.

"The idea is that we focus on providing a robust curriculum for our faculty to develop effective teaching practices that are going to have long-term effects on student retention and student success," added Williamson. "I want this to build our capacity for ensuring that equity is a part of our institutional culture and build our capacity for leading our community. I hope that our faculty and leaders who take this Association of College and University Educators course are inspired to think differently and more aggressively about what they can do as individuals and as groups to engage students more effectively and to address all of the challenges students face on their educational journeys in and out of the classroom."

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, evolving industries, maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the people of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. San Jacinto College is among the top five community colleges in the nation as designated by the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence, and was named an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction in 2020. The College spans five campuses serving approximately 41,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers more than 200 degrees and certificates across eight major areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College's impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor's and Moody's.

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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