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The ACE 

A guide for decision-making and professional development planning during times of crisis.

Flexibility through Policy


We often think of policies and institutional structures as stable and context-independent. Because they seek fairness and universality, they are often designed as blankets that do not shift according either to the needs of individuals to whom they apply or to the circumstances in which they are applied. Achieving adaptability through policy means thinking about policy and institutional structures in ways that allow them to be sensitive to individual learner need and responsive to changes in the landscapes that surround learning during times of crisis.

Guiding Questions

As you adjust any policy or structure on a permanent or temporary basis, ask: “What is the key learning-related goal of this policy or structure?” Try as possible to make decisions about revisions that align with that key goal.

  • What current policies or structures are increasingly stressed during this particular crisis, and how could those policies be permanently or temporarily revised in order to encourage student success?
  • When you ask students what they find most challenging about learning during the crisis, how do those answers map to particular university policies and structures, and how could policy and structural revision reduce barriers to learning?
  • What university governance protocols should be followed during this time of crisis as the institution seeks to revise certain policies or structures? Do these protocols involve all affected stakeholders?

Examples & Resources

About the ACE “Institutional Level”

The ACE Framework is primarily designed for faculty who are readjusting their curriculum during times of regional, national, or global crisis. But in order for the work that faculty do with their assignments and courses to be most effective, it should be aligned with the institutional mission, which should guide policy and structural planning related to curriculum and teaching.

The institutional level of the framework is a reminder to faculty that if their adjustments at the assignment- or course-level are difficult to operationalize successfully, it could be due to larger policies and structures that are mis-aligned with the ACE Framework; advocacy may be warranted to bring the institution into alignment.

The institutional level of the framework is also a call to university policy-making committees, administrators, Boards of Trustees, and legislators that there is much work to be done to prepare university policies and structures to support students and faculty who are learning and teaching through challenging times.