ACUE - Student Success Through Exceptional Teaching

ACUE Effective Teaching Practices Program

All students deserve an extraordinary education and faculty play a critical role in their success.

As part of NIU's support of innovative pedagogy, faculty members at NIU have the opportunity to participate in an Association of College and University Educators’ (ACUE) course on effective teaching.

Faculty members who participate will explore and implement research-based approaches to teaching designed to improve student engagement and persistence and promote deeper learning. Those who complete the entire 25-week course in effective teaching practices will earn the designation of "ACUE Distinguished Teaching Scholar" for NIU.


This initiative aligns with NIU’s mission, vision and values to provide students from diverse backgrounds a classroom experience that supports their success. The ACUE course incorporates culturally responsive teaching techniques and encourages those involved to engage in thought-provoking discussions and self-reflection around how to promote an inclusive class experience.

NIU is also offering ACUE's microcredential in Inclusive Teaching for Equitable Learning. This is a shorter, 8-week course that helps faculty develop a deeper understanding of implicit bias, microaggressions, stereotype threat, and imposter phenomenon.

How ACUE Impacts Teaching and Learning

Faculty play a critical role in students' success. The ACUE Effective Teaching Practices Program is giving NIU faculty tools to implement and support inclusive and innovative teaching.

A Typical Faculty Member Credentialed by ACUE



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Build your teaching skills across these five core teaching competencies:

  • 1

    Designing an Effective Course and Class

    • Establishing Powerful Learning Outcomes
    • Aligning Assessments With Course Outcomes
    • Aligning Activities and Assignments With Course Outcomes
    • Preparing an Effective Syllabus
    • Planning an Effective Class Session
  • 2

    Establishing an Inclusive Learning Environment

    • Leading the First Day of Class
    • Promoting a Civil Learning Environment
    • Connecting With Your Students
    • Motivating Your Students
    • Engaging Underprepared Students
    • Helping Students Persist in Their Studies
    • Embracing Diversity in Your Classroom
  • 3

    Using Active Learning Techniques

    • Using Active Learning Techniques in Small Groups
    • Using Active Learning Techniques in Large Classes
    • Delivering an Effective Lecture
    • Planning Effective Class Discussions
    • Facilitating Engaging Class Discussions
    • Integrating Civic Learning Into Your Course
  • 4

    Promoting Higher Order Thinking

    • Providing Clear Directions and Explanations
    • Using Concept Maps and Other Visualization Tools
    • Teaching Powerful Note-Taking Skills
    • Using Advanced Questioning Techniques
    • Developing Self-Directed Learners
  • 5

    Assessing to Inform Instruction and Promote Learning

    • Developing Fair, Consistent, and Transparent Grading Practices
    • Developing and Using Rubrics and Checklists
    • Providing Useful Feedback
    • Checking for Student Understanding
    • Using Student Achievement and Feedback to Improve Your Teaching
  • 25 modules build to full certificate
  • high-quality user experience
  • video-rich - over 180 demonstration lessons
  • collaborative - faculty engage in cohorts
  • facilitated by a teaching expert
  • implementation is required
  • assignments and reflections are required
  • evaluated by ACUE national readers
  • 1-2 cohorts per year, beginning in fall or spring, limited to 30 faculty participants each
  • 25 online modules, one completed per week (2-3 hours online content and engagement per week)
  • faculty apply new strategies in their teaching, then share reflections on the implementation and receive feedback from
  • co-facilitated by faculty and teaching experts
  • periodic in-person meetings with cohort and facilitators
  • earn nationally-recognized Certificate in Effective College Instruction, endorsed by American Council on Education (ACE)
  • become an NIU ACUE Distinguished Teaching Scholar
  • be recognized by the Provost's Office in a ceremony at the end of the program
  • have opportunity to share your teaching expertise with your peers
  • Total of 60 available slots per year (30 in the fall and 30 in spring). Colleges allotted number of faculty slots proportionate to college size.
  • All faculty (tenured/tenure-track and full-time instructors) are eligible to participate. Those who are interested can contact the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) to be added to the interest list for the upcoming cohort.
  • All participants should be teaching a class where they can try new approaches. Priority is given to new faculty, coordinators of general education courses, and those teaching courses with high D/F/W or equity gap rates.
  • In collaboration with CITL, colleges put forward nominations to the Provost's Office for final selection and invitation by the Provost.

"One of the most important aspects of the course is that faculty have agreed to use the techniques they are learning in their current classes. This is an active course that covers all aspects of a pedagogically-sound course, from design to implementation to assessment. Faculty learn and develop a technique and then they put it into practice immediately.” - Provost Beth Ingram

"The cohort enables faculty to promote and implement the quality teaching and learning NIU is known for and represents an investment by the university in professional development. It’s a holistic course that takes the approach good teaching is inclusive teaching. Through the course, they will learn the types of practices that support student success for everyone.” - Stephanie Richter, director of faculty development and instructional support, CITL

"Faculty are sharing their insights and challenges and building connections. It is wonderful to see those relationships building. I believe they will be long-lasting relationships that will continue well beyond the course.” - Yvonne Johnson, multimodal teaching coordinator and ACUE course facilitator, CITL

"I have used the online weekly schedule to help students stay on track every week, built a stronger online community with syllabus activities, icebreakers and online question parking lots. These activities have significantly increased the online communication amongst students. Although I have been teaching online for 8 years, the ACUE course provided me with an arsenal of ideas to continuously improve my teaching which in turn would enhance the student learning experience.” - Shanthi Muthuswami, professor and ACUE teaching fellow, fall 2020 cohort, Engineering Technology

"We’re really pleased where we’re at today with the ACUE program and look forward to continuing the partnership with ACUE into the future. There is significant evidence that faculty who participate in extended faculty development (like the ACUE course) translate that learning into course materials and teaching approaches that lead to student learning gains." - Jason Rhode, associate vice provost for Teaching, Learning, and Digital Education

“We are committed to building an equity-minded academic community that challenges and eliminates exclusionary practices and provides all faculty with the recognition and support necessary to achieve their full intellectual and professional potential." - Vernese Edghill-Walden, chief diversity officer and vice president for Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the course consist of?

Course consists of four blocks and each block includes six modules (each module focuses on specific aspects of the broader topic of the block).

The focus of the four blocks are:

  • Creating and Inclusive and Supportive Learning Environment
  • Promoting Active Learning
  • Designing a Student-Centered Course
  • Inspiring Inquiry and Preparing Lifelong Learners
Can I get a taste for what the course experience is like?

The ACUE course is designed according to best practices in course design and delivery. There are weekly readings, technique talks that provide examples of instructional practices in action, assignments, due dates, and reflections. Basically, participants in the cohort learn about best practices for teaching and develop a way to use a technique in their course, and apply these practices in their courses. Reflections on how the activity went in the course are a part of most of the modules.

You can additionally find previews of course modules here.

What is the time commitment to complete the course?

The course consists of 25 online modules (on average, one completed per week) involving 2-3 hours of online content and engagement per week, as well as time spent on application of instructional practices in your classroom.

Summary by the Numbers


Total NIU participants in ACUE Effective Teaching Practices Program


Total NIU faculty and teaching staff completing entire Effective Teaching Practics program, becoming NIU ACUE Distinguished Teaching Scholars


Inclusive Teaching for Equitable Learning microcredentials earned, including 98 NIU faculty and teaching staff and 48 graduate students

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-753-0595

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