February 8, 2013 8:14 pm

Pierce College is receiving national attention for its innovative approach to faculty training.

The college’s “Master Teaching” program, which aims to improve instruction, is cited in a publication just released by The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program.

“Our Master Teaching program works because the faculty in our district decide what they want to improve in their instruction and assess whether it makes a difference in student learning,” said Denise Yochum, president of Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. “We are so pleased the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has cited our district program as an example that may help other community colleges create a faculty culture of continuous improvement.”

The Aspen Institute is a public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. Last year, the institute’s College Excellence Program named Pierce College as one of the top 120 community colleges in the nation based in part on the college’s high learning standards and college completion rate. While the faculty development program is a district program and involves both of Pierce College’s campuses, the award went specifically to the Fort Steilacoom campus in part due to their unique demographics.

The newly released guide, “Creating a Faculty Culture of Student Success,” spotlights Pierce College Fort Steilacoom and several other of the top colleges in the nation for creating cultures in which faculty members consistently work to reform and improve their teaching to advance student learning.

The guide explains how Pierce College’s Master Teacher program incorporates the union contract to boost base salaries by $2,500 for those who complete a year of professional training. As part of the training, participants implement a project they developed to improve their teaching, assess and document its effect on student learning and share their findings on college-wide training days.