Such feedback can be especially illuminating if teaching assistants are encouraged to attend class sessions regularly and to meet with the faculty member in charge of the course and with each other. Ways in which teaching assistants can provide appropriate feedback to individual faculty and to their academic department include the following:.
Encouraging teaching assistants to provide information throughout the term about the difficulties students may be having in the courses with which the teaching assistants are involved.
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Through conversations with and direct observation of students in the course, teaching assistants can tell an instructor what aspects of the course readings, assignments, and presentations are causing problems for students. Some faculty ask teaching assistants to give them brief weekly reports on the one or two things that cause students the most difficulty. Asking teaching assistants to review examinations and quizzes before they are given to students. Having participated in the course, teaching assistants can identify ambiguous or unclear exam items before the tests are administered.
After midterms or quizzes have been graded, teaching assistants can provide detailed information about patterns of error or misunderstanding. Collecting this kind of information from a number of teaching assistants from different courses, from sections within a course, and over an extended period of time can also enable departments to determine which concepts need to be reinforced in several courses or which misconceptions persist as students advance through the curriculum.
Under the right circumstances, these judgments can be used to assist in summative evaluations of faculty see also Chapter 4. Similar judgments from colleagues also can be useful in formative evaluations for professional development of faculty. At small institutions or in very small departments, a lack of resources or limited numbers of faculty may make faculty input more difficult to obtain than in larger institutions or departments.
Theory-based impact evaluation: principles and practice
In addition, friendships or rivalries that arise within any department may be amplified in smaller departments. In such cases, balanced and objective evaluations of teaching colleagues may be achieved only by including in the evaluation process additional faculty from outside the academic unit of the person being evaluated. Instructors who are being evaluated can ask a mentor, colleague, or instructional improvement specialist at the campus or discipline-based teaching and learning center to visit their classes and provide feedback on their teaching.
Prior to each visit, instructors can discuss with observers the specific classroom issues or techniques on which the observers should focus e. Faculty also can ask colleagues, particularly those known to be excellent teachers, for permission to visit their courses. Visitors can note the specific techniques used by the colleague in leading discussions, conducting teaching laboratories, and so on. If time permits after class, the observing and observed faculty members can discuss their respective teaching philosophies, goals, instructional methods, out-of-class preparation, and similar matters.
It is usually most helpful for a faculty member to attend a series of classes say, all classes dealing with a specific topic or issue to obtain a broad per-. Informal discussions and efforts to improve instruction among faculty members take place daily, but some departments and institutions employ more systematic and formal efforts to assist in the improvement of teaching through formative evaluation.
In addition to the evaluation questionnaires reprinted in Appendix C , the following approaches to formative evaluation can be especially useful for the purposes of faculty professional development. Faculty mentoring faculty.
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Increasingly, departments are assigning senior faculty as mentors to untenured faculty. Boice found that it was not necessary for successful mentors to be from the same department. At a variety of higher education institutions, Katz and Henry developed a strategy of transdisciplinary mentoring based on faculty working together to understand both how students learn and how to improve their teaching.
Referred to as the Master Faculty Program, this initiative involves faculty working together in pairs or in triads. With these observations in hand, the faculty participating in the program meet periodically to discuss candidly, and confidentially, how each participant has or has not fostered student learning. Chandler has documented the generally positive results of this type of program involving some faculty at 21 different colleges and universities. Formative evaluation by faculty colleagues from other institutions.
Faculty at higher education institutions across the country and around the world can provide formative evaluation to colleagues via the Internet. This kind of input from colleagues at other institutions could be included as part of a teaching portfolio or dossier for. Projects of the American Association for Higher Education. One such project, conducted in the mids, involved 12 universities and stressed peer review as a means of formative evaluation.
In this project, participants monitored their progress in improving student learning. More recently, AAHE, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning jointly developed a program for peer collaboration based on ideas and criteria advanced by Boyer and Glassick and colleagues The goals of the program are to support the development of a scholarship of teaching and learning that will foster significant, long-lasting learning for all students.
The program also seeks to enhance the practice and profession of teaching and bring to the scholarship of teaching the same kinds of recognition and reward afforded for other forms of scholarly work Hutchings, Centra has extended these criteria to allow for evaluation of the scholarship of teaching and learning as practiced by academic departments and institutions see Box These self-reports, which may be part of a required annual report or a teaching portfolio, are more useful and appropriate for formative or professional development purposes than for summative personnel decisions.
Theory-based impact evaluation: principles and practice
Faculty who have not previously performed self-evaluation may require assistance from teaching and learning centers. Box Evaluating the Scholarship of Teaching. Clear Goals: Does the scholar state the basic purposes of his or her work clearly? Does the scholar define objectives that are realistic and achievable? Does the scholar identify important questions in the field?
Adequate Preparation: Does the scholar show an understanding of existing scholarship in the field? Does the scholar bring the necessary skills to his or her work? Does the scholar bring together the resources necessary to move the project forward? Appropriate Methods: Does the scholar use methods appropriate to the goals? Does the scholar apply effectively the methods selected?
Principles and Practice, 1st Edition
Does the scholar modify procedures in response to changing circumstances? Significant Results: Does the scholar achieve the goals? Effective Presentation: Does the scholar use a suitable style and effective organization to present his or her work? Does the scholar use appropriate forums for communicating work to its intended audiences?
Does the scholar present his or her message with clarity and integrity?
Reflective Critique: Does the scholar critically evaluate his or her own work? Does the scholar bring an appropriate breadth of evidence to his or her critique? Does the scholar use evaluation to improve the quality of future work?
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Products of good teaching for example, student workbooks or logs, student pre- and post-examination results, graded student essays. Material developed by the individual course and curriculum development materials, syllabi, descriptions of how various materials were used in teaching, innovations the instructor has attempted and an evaluation of their success, videotapes of teaching. Material or assessments from others student work and evaluations, input from colleagues or alumni.
Descriptions of how the individual has remained current in the field, such as using knowledge gained from attending professional conferences Edgerton et al. External support obtained for such purposes as improving teaching or purchasing instrumentation for teaching laboratories. Videotaping is a useful strategy that enables instructors to see what they do well and what needs to be improved. Faculty who have been videotaped find the experience extremely helpful, especially if they discuss the analysis with someone having expertise in classroom behavior.
Videotaping is best used for formative evaluation. Faculty members can use before-and-after self-assessment to determine whether course outcomes meet their expectations. Before a course begins, the instructor writes brief comments about the types of students for whom the course is intended. Given that audience, the instructor lists the most important course and learning goals and the teaching strategies she or he will design to achieve them.
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These self-assessments can become part of a teaching portfolio that can later be used for more summative types of evaluation. Another form of before-and-after assessment may help instructors who are interested in examining their teaching behaviors and effectiveness rather than course outcomes.
For this technique, instructors use the end-of-course evaluation form, but complete the questionnaire before their course begins predicting how they think they will do and again at the end of the semester how they believe they did.
They also may wish to fill out a questionnaire at the end of the term based on what they expect, on average, their students will say about their teaching. In most cases, such self-evaluations are. In looking at the results, instructors may wish to focus on any deficiencies noted in the self-evaluation or on discrepancies between their own evaluations and those of their students. Questionnaires are most commonly used for summative student evaluations of teaching. The questionnaires can be machine-scored and fall into two categories: those developed locally by campus teaching and learning centers by consulting the literature or adapting forms used elsewhere, and those developed by other institutions or organizations and made available for a fee.
Questionnaires vary somewhat in the characteristics of teachers and courses covered, as well as in the quality and usefulness of the scores generated for the instructor. Typically, student evaluation instruments have attempted to identify strengths and weaknesses of instructors in the following areas:. For example, they may ask whether the faculty member makes eye contact with students during discussions, how many questions the instructor poses during class as compared with the nature of the questions , or how often students may be assigned to work in groups rather than work alone.
Such questions are appropriate only if they are explicitly intended to provide formative feedback for the instructor, but should not be used for summative purposes.