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Assessment of Teaching

What additional services are available to help faculty assess the effectiveness of their teaching?

Research suggests that experimenting with additional ways of measuring and assessing teaching, beyond student opinion surveys, can be valuable and help instructors to improve and refine their teaching practices. The University Center for Teaching and Learning can assist with the following:

Classroom Observations

The Teaching Center has conducted hundreds of teaching observations over the past several years. These are sometimes done at the request of chairs and deans, and frequently at the request of the individual faculty. Usually these are done to improve some aspect of teaching, often discovered in student surveys or peer observations. Sometimes these are completed at the request of a department to supplement a teaching portfolio for tenure.

Course Review

The Teaching Center conducts course, curriculum, assessment, and syllabi reviews at the request of a faculty member, department or school. Course materials (instructional content) are a large part of the overall picture of teaching effectiveness and can be included in a course review. Information sessions on how to conduct informal mid-term assessments can also be scheduled.

Teaching Portfolios

Graduate students in the FACDEV course are instructed on how to create a teaching portfolio. We also offer critiques of teaching portfolios at faculty request.

Departmental Peer Assessment

The Teaching Center will work with a department to design a teaching effectiveness form, unique to the needs of the department. The Teaching Center will then train the faculty to use the form to evaluate peer faculty via teaching observations, and how to provide feedback.

Teaching Cohorts (Peer evaluations)

Four faculty together with a Teaching Consultant work to examine, review, and enrich their teaching practice. Groups meet three times a semester, and agree to do one observation of each group member as they teach. Teaching Consultants facilitate. (Limited capacity – must be arranged in advance.)

Small Group Instructional Diagnosis

Use guided discussions (similar to a focus group) with groups of students in some classes, particularly large enrollment courses, to collect, analyze, and report on findings from the students. The data will be turned into a report for the faculty and TAs with suggestions on how improvements could be made. (Limited capacity – must be arranged in advance)

Teaching Surveys

The Office of Measurement & Evaluation of Teaching (OMET) administers online student opinion of teaching surveys. Faculty may add additional questions to their survey.

Consultations

Individual faculty consultations are a foundation of Teaching Center services. Faculty receive confidential feedback provided through course, curriculum, assessment, syllabi reviews, and classroom observations. Faculty appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with pedagogy experts on the design and delivery of their courses.

Teaching Practices Inventory

Additionally, you can reference the Teaching Practices Inventory, which is a research-based assessment instrument developed by Carl Wieman and Sarah Gilbert for faculty teaching in undergraduate STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Click the link in the heading above for more information.

Many higher education faculty strive to measure and improve the quality of their teaching. Student course evaluations are faculty’s most common method of collecting teaching data, but these evaluations yield little information or guidance on how to improve teaching. The Teaching Practices Inventory (TPI) is a research-based assessment instrument developed by Carl Wieman and Sarah Gilbert for faculty teaching in undergraduate STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In a multi-year study with more than 200 courses, the authors collected common teaching practices that have been found to help students learn. The observable practices have been organized into a survey to help instructors self-assess and further develop their teaching skills. The common classroom teaching behaviors are organized in the following eight categories:

  1. Course information including learning goals or outcomes
  2. Supporting materials
  3. In-class features and activities
  4. Assignments
  5. Feedback and testing
  6. Other practices (e.g., new teaching methods, diagnostics, pre/post-testing)
  7. Training and guidance of teaching assistants
  8. Collaboration or sharing in teaching

How do faculty use the Teaching Practices Inventory?

The 72-item inventory is a reflective, self-reporting instrument that faculty complete in 10-15 minutes. Most of the inventory practices are objective behaviors such as providing students with a list of course topics, practice exams, solutions to homework, opportunities for self-evaluation, and group assignments. The TPI is designed to review practices in lecture courses and is not suitable for laboratories, seminars, or project courses. While the inventory is developed primarily for the STEM disciplines, Wieman notes it may also be appropriate for social sciences.

The inventory incorporates a scoring rubric that results in a quantitative measure to help faculty analyze their personal teaching practices compared to research-based teaching practices. In the self-assessment process, instructors indicate whether they have implemented a practice rather than reporting on the quality of the implementation. By enhancing awareness of classroom instruction, faculty develop a comprehensive picture of their teaching behaviors and identify additional practices that they may want to integrate into their classrooms in the future.

Where can I find more information on the Teaching Practices Inventory?

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