Promoting Student Success

MMA Faculty at ACUE Ceremony


While spring is often equated with a sense of renewal and growth, for those in the teaching profession, that time comes later in the summer as they ready for the arrival of their students and the beginning of a new academic year. Preparing syllabi and thinking about new ways to approach their subject matter, even the best teachers remain life-long learners. Instructors can engage in life-long learning within their academic disciplines, or in MMA's case also by acquiring new evidence-based pedagogical techniques. So it was fitting that prior to the start of classes last week a group of MMA professors were recognized for their initiative over the past year within a program that focuses on what teaching really boils down to: student success both within and beyond the classroom.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) is a STEM-focused institution that requires preparation for rigorous work in mathematics and the sciences. Success in gateway courses, especially within science and mathematics, is of critical importance for all students who enter the Academy. 

Motivated to respond to these gaps in student achievement, MMA applied for and was awarded a 2019 Performance Incentive Fund (PIF) grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. MMA’s project was focused on student success. An integral component of the grant project was establishing a community of professional practice for instructors with the assistance of the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) and their course in effective teaching practices. During the fall 2018 semester, MMA launched a partnership with ACUE to help faculty across undergraduate programs and departments build a stronger foundation in the instructional skills shown to promote student motivation, learning, and persistence.

Aligned with the latest research in cognition and adult learning, ACUE’s course addresses over 200 evidence-based teaching practices. Topics include 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. Faculty who satisfied the program requirements were awarded a nationally recognized Certificate in Effective College Instruction that is co-endorsed by ACUE and the American Council on Education (ACE). These instructors also received course redevelopment grants to put into practice what they learned through the ACUE course.

MMA’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) provided support for the ACUE program. Dr. Catherine Gildae, who serves as part-time associate within OIE and has nearly twenty years of teaching experience, was the on-campus facilitator for the program. According to Dr. Marlene Clapp, OIE’s Director, “We were excited to be able to offer this opportunity to instructors here at MMA. ACUE strives for every instructor and every student to have a great learning experience. We share that vision.”

The newly credentialed faculty members:

Science & Mathematics - Germán Colón, Valeria D'Orazio, Margaret French, Ray Lam, Laurie Norman, Rebecca (Becky) Norton

International Maritime Business - Laurel Goulet, Paul Szwed

Engineering - Farzam Maleki, Wei Yu

Marine Science, Safety, & Environmental Protection - Kristin Osborne

Institutional Effectiveness - Marlene Clapp, Catherine Gildae