The Faculty Take on Student Learning

As national and campus debates about student learning outcomes and now college completion have intensified in the last several years, faculty groups and individual professors have largely weighed in from the sidelines, rarely stepping into the actual fray. Whether that’s because they have chosen not to participate, or because the policy makers and politicians leading the discussions have not sought to involve them, is a matter of debate — and both are probably true.

AFT Higher Education, the division of the American Federation of Teachers that represents more than 200,000 college and university instructors, professional staff and graduate students, hopes to change that state of affairs with a new effort aimed at injecting its members (and professors generally) more directly into national and campus discussions about how, and how successfully, colleges educate students.

The campaign, which was formally begun at the group’s national higher education issues conference here this weekend, included the release of a report, "Student Success in Higher Education," a summary of focus groups with students, and a session in which the group’s members discussed the reports and the faculty role in student success with several national experts on learning. In the coming months, AFT plans to step up its discussions with national groups and foundations that are working on student success issues and to provide funds to local affiliates to help them with student learning initiatives on their campuses.

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