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Teaching & Learning

How ATD helps colleges use professional learning to drive transformation

News & Updates
April 6, 2022
man in suit jacket standing beside projector screen

ATD’s groundbreaking teaching and learning work was highlighted in a recent cover story in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. Published in the March/April issue (click here for free access), the article offers a compelling glimpse at one of ATD’s newest programs, Building Capacity for Change: Strengthening Professional Learning on Your Campus.

As we all know, community colleges face multiple challenges related to enrollments, equity, and ensuring that students’ education helps them effectively prepare for citizenship and meaningful careers. Faculty are key to solving all these challenges.

Professional learning — what has historically been known as faculty “training” or faculty development — offers a powerful tool for engaging faculty, helping them adopt evidence-based pedagogies, advance holistic student supports, and address broad campus challenges. But all too often, professional learning is marginalized, under-resourced and under-utilized as a tool for strategic, campus-wide change.

The Change article outlines ways campuses can better deploy professional learning to build equity and address pervasive challenges. It traces ATD’s role in developing a set of research-based principles for high-impact professional learning, first published as the New Learning Compact Framework. It discusses ATD’s Teaching & Learning Toolkit, which elaborated on and enriched these principles with case studies and hands-on activities colleges can use to apply the principles to their own contexts.

The heart of the Change article focuses on ATD’s active work with campuses through the Building Capacity for Change (BCC) program. Combining a seminar series with individualized coaching, BCC helps campus teams use the Toolkit and other resources to rethink professional learning, making it more engaging to educators and more systemic and valuable for their institutions.

First piloted in 2020–21 with Frontier Set institutions and then formally launched in 2021–22 with 14 colleges across the ATD Network, the BCC program offers sustained support for self-assessment and planning through a collaborative, “colleges helping colleges” strategy. The program culminates in a strategic action plan that colleges can use to transform teaching and learning and meet pressing needs.

Preliminary results are highly encouraging. As reported in Change, the vast majority of participants valued the seminar’s resources, the strategies they developed, and the collaboration. For example, as noted in the article, 93 percent of participants reported that the process had helped them identify actionable plans for strengthening professional learning at their institution.

Follow-up interviews and reports from campuses indicate that they are putting their plans into action, making changes in the ways they design, support, lead, and assess their professional learning programs. As one participant reported:

Our school participated last fall, and it was an invaluable experience. We are about to roll out our new professional learning certification structure, and we are working on implementing new communities of practice. There has been a collective shift in our focus on professional learning and the implementation of the equity-minded practices we learned in the BCC program.

More information and applications to take part in next year’s Building Capacity for Change seminar and coaching program are available here.

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