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Darcie Larimore-Arenas Blog about ACUE Course

Below is a blog entry written by Darcie Larimore-Arenas. Darcie is an Assistant Professior in the Joint MS Physician Assistant Studies/Public Health Master’s degree program at Touro University California.

The ACUE online course for faculty has been a game-changer for me. My name is Darcie Larimore-Arenas, and I am an Assistant Professor for the Dual Master Degree Program for Physician Assistant and Public Health Program at Touro University California. I started as faculty four years ago, having come from a clinical background in family practice and a teaching background at the K-8 level. As a graduate of the program where I am now teaching, I assumed (incorrectly) that teaching the next generation of PA/MPH students would feel instinctive and that I could fall into a rhythm guided by my personal history and experience. Unfortunately, this was absolutely not the case. I struggled to find my way in a variety of important areas, including curriculum development, syllabus creation, testing, and effective use of class time. I have had excellent colleague mentorship but felt that I was piecing together the pathway to better teaching. Enter ACUE.

Unreservedly, I can attest that ACUE has improved my teaching – and I am only part-way through the course. I have been able to employ practical and meaningful changes to my courses as a result of what I am learning. I was reticent to take on additional work and responsibilities with this course given that I am full-time principal faculty and practice clinically, as well. The ACUE course design has been an excellent fit for me. The course is a hybrid of online and face-to-face meetings, and allows for some flexibility with each deadline. The course modules include videos demonstrating application of the teaching methods, instructional videos that lay out crisply and efficiently how to utilize the techniques, a plethora of reference materials and handouts, and discussion boards to share and bounce ideas around with colleagues.

I can now speak from personal experience on the benefits of the ACUE techniques. Since I have begun employing ACUE practices in the classroom for improved delivery of material, students have responded enthusiastically and with improved participation. A sampling of some of my newly instituted techniques include mini-lessons, lecture outlines presented at the beginning of class, small group and pair-and-share activities to begin class or break up the lecture, and student-led summaries of the lecture material. In addition, ACUE has greatly helped me to better understand how to make learning outcomes student-centered and how to align the outcomes with objectives and assessments. I am developing improved testing methods and creating transparency in the process so that students feel empowered for their own learning.

Not once during this course have I felt that the material presented did not apply to me or was not useful or practicable. I have experienced excellent support along the way and I appreciate the opportunity to develop my teaching with this curriculum. ACUE provides a very straightforward curriculum for higher education development and delivery and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate. With months of curriculum ahead of me, I am excited to see what lies in store and how it can help me to better help my students!

Darcie Larimore-Arenas, MSPAS, MPH, PA-C
Assistant Professor
Touro University California Joint MSPAS/MPH Program