A National Priority for the Future of Undergraduate Education

“Currently, 17 million students are enrolled in college and university programs across the country—representing, in every sense, the future of our country and of the world. It is only appropriate that we should continually evaluate the education they receive and adjust our methods and resources to ensure the most positive results for individual students, their families, and for our society as a whole.” 

from The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of America (American Academy of Arts & Sciences)

  • The American Academy’s Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education established Strengthening the Student Educational Experience as a National Priority and proposes an array of recommendations for colleges and universities.
  • The Commission calls on institutions to make a systemic commitment to improving the quality of college teaching, "a commitment that acknowledges and rewards good teaching practices that are grounded in the learning sciences and an understanding of the variety of experiences and learning styles students bring to campuses."
  • Priorities include developing more reliable measures of student learning gains and further experimentation with and assessment of technology-assisted teaching strategies and new models where conventional teaching responsibilities are divided across multiple individuals.

The Cornell Center for Teaching Innovation embraces research on learning, innovating and teaching, and creating learning environments where every student can thrive. 

The Active Learning Initiative (ALI) supports departments in redesigning their undergraduate courses to implement research-based active learning strategies and in creating sustainable improvements to undergraduate education at Cornell

Initiative Goals

  • Provide guidance to Cornell faculty in implementing active learning pedagogies and other evidence-based teaching practices
  • Improve overall achievement of student learning outcomes
  • Foster positive and inclusive learning experiences
  • Share best practices in teaching across the campus to increase the effective use of active learning strategies and enhance student experiences

Departmental Process and Support

  • Competitive grants are offered to Departments to facilitate the transformation of a significant number of their courses.
  • Grant funding can be used to hire discipline-based education specialists (postdocs) to collaborate in the transformation process.
  • The donor-funded initiative is supported by Cornell’s Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and the Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI).
  • The CTI partners with the ALI community by providing training to the postdoctoral fellows and one-on-one consultations with faculty, helping with the design of assessments and evaluation, and organizing campus events to share teaching strategies.

Five pillars of the Center for Teaching Innovation’s approach:

  • Innovation: Explore teaching ideas that are new to you, new to a few, new to many, or new to all—encompassing anything that instructors want to integrate into their classroom to enhance student learning.
  • Diversity: Sustain inclusive learning environments where students feel a sense of belongingness and can thrive.
  • Evidence-Based Teaching: Integrate teaching strategies by the research on how people learn.
  • Assessment & Evaluation: Approach teaching as active scholarly inquiry.
  • Technology: Leverage technology to engage students in community and deepen learning.
  • For each domain, Cornell offers various trainings and programs to empower each faculty, graduate student, and postdoc in their classrooms. The center offers resources for increasing diversity, integrating new technologies, designing assessments, and various other essential components of excellent teaching.

Cornell’s Center for Teaching Innovation provides online information about Learning Technologies, including Assessment Tools, and Teaching Resources