Bringing Theory to Practice

Bringing Theory to Practice Project at Pace University

Update:   Pace University’s Bringing Theory to Practice Conference Day was a success! Thank you to those who attended—more than 100 faculty, students and staff!
Dr. Jillian Kinzie’s slides can be found here and her handouts here.

The Bringing Theory to Practice Project (BT to P) is an initiative of the Association of American Colleges and Universities that supports” campus-based initiatives that demonstrate how uses of engaged forms of learning, actively involving students both within and beyond the classroom, directly contribute to their cognitive, emotional, and civic development” (AAC&U 2009).

In the spring of 2009, Pace University became one of the 53 member institutions of the Leadership Coalition of BTtoP. The commitment of the BTtoP project to the Leadership Coalition institutions is to help campuses actually put into place their own steps on an arc of change—steps that will make a difference to students having a transformative educational experience.

On October 15, 2010, Pace held a Bringing Theory to Practice conference day for faculty and administrators intended to celebrate the high impact educational practices already in use at the University, such as undergraduate research, service learning, internships and capstone courses and projects, learning communities, writing enhanced courses, and first-year programs and curricular requirements, while also providing opportunities to improve and develop student-centered practices. The keynote speaker was Jillian Kinzie, Associate Director, Center for Postsecondary Research & NSSE Institute. A prolific author and co-author, one of Dr. Kinzie’s articles is “Research and Discovery Across the Curriculum,” co-written with Susan Elrod and Diane Husic. She discussed the research regarding high impact educational practices and the factors that influence student success as identified through Project DEEP. Other features of the conference included: a panel of faculty who shared their experiences with high-impact practices; roundtable workshops; and a student panel.

The goal for the Bringing Theory to Practice conference day was to establish mentoring relationships between those faculty who are experienced using high impact practices and those faculty planning to pilot a high impact practice in a spring 2011 course.

Finally, the acceptance of a culture of assessment and evidence at the University is a key element of Pace’s fulfillment of the BTtoP project.  Embracing an environment that is student-centered and centered on student learning rather than teaching-centered allows faculty and professional staff to honestly explore the extent and depth of student learning, to identify weaknesses and to extend and strengthen the successful methodologies and pedagogies that are confirmed through assessment.  An important vehicle for sharing best practices is Assessment News, an assessment newsletter coordinated through the Office of Planning, Assessment and Institutional Research in collaboration with the University Assessment Committee.  This newsletter highlights assessment practices, projects and news and most importantly improvements in teaching and learning.  Please visit the Assessment News page for the latest issue!

Further reading:

Overview of the Bringing Theory to Practice project: http://www.aacu.org/bringing_theory/documents/BTtoP_Synopsis.pdf

Paper about transformational learning: http://www.aacu.org/bringing_theory/documents/2008StrategyforChange.doc

BTtoP newsletter: http://www.aacu.org/bringing_theory/newsletter/index.cfm