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Assessment of Teaching FAQ

Why are academic units submitting assessment of teaching plans?

In fall of 2018, in response to faculty concerns about overreliance on student opinion of teaching surveys, Provost Cudd asked the Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence (ACIE) to investigate and provide recommendations on expanding assessment of teaching practices. ACIE submitted their recommendations in July 2019. ACIE specifically recommended that each academic unit develop a plan for evaluating teaching performance that goes beyond sole reliance on student opinion of teaching surveys, and also includes broader input from faculty colleagues, an instructor self-assessment, and teaching artifacts. The full set of ACIE recommendations was discussed by Council of Deans on Jan. 10, 2020 and was endorsed on Jan. 30, 2020. The recommendations were discussed and shared with the Senate Educational Policies Committee on May 18, 2020 and were accepted by the Faculty Assembly at the Nov. 4, 2020, meeting.

What information should be included in assessment of teaching plans?

The Teaching Center has created an assessment of teaching plan template that includes information about what to put in plans and resources that may be helpful to academic units as they compose plans.

If assessment of teaching plans should be submitted by “academic units,” does that mean schools should submit plans or departments?

The Provost’s Office has requested plans at the school-level, however, department chairs should communicate and collaborate with leaders in their school to ensure that school-level plans capture department-level assessment of teaching activities and that all assessment of teaching activities are in alignment.

When are plans due? To whom do I submit them?

Each dean and campus president work with faculty to develop a plan and submit them to the Provost’s Office at provost@pitt.edu, with a copy to teaching@pitt.edu by the end of the spring term 2021 (April 30, 2021).

Are there resources available to help faculty learn how to appropriately increase student response rates and raise student awareness of the impact of their feedback?

Yes. One of ACIE’s recommendations was to enhance the value of student opinion of teaching surveys and raise faculty awareness of the potential for bias to affect survey results. Here are the resources available for faculty:

What is the difference between summative and formative assessment of teaching?

The primary purpose of summative measures of teaching effectiveness is evaluation. Summative assessment is typically tied to a formal evaluation process like annual, promotion, or tenure reviews. The purpose of formative assessment of teaching is to provide faculty with information that will help them improve their teaching. Formative assessments are not included as part of formal review processes.

How should OMET summative results be used?

Units should recognize the value of student feedback and take into consideration best practices for interpreting and using results. In addition to recognizing that potential bias in student opinion of teaching survey results may exist, unit leaders should examine distribution of scores and results over time. Also, faculty should not be ranked or compared to overall unit averages. The Teaching Center offers additional resources for the interpretation and use of results.

What measures should be included in summative evaluations of teaching?

ACIE recommendations state summative evaluations (annual review, promotion, tenure evaluations) should draw on multiple sources, such as peer review, student feedback, representative teaching materials and course artifacts, and self-assessment. ACIE intentionally used these broad categories of assessment measures in their recommendations to give academic units the flexibility to design assessments that best suit their needs while still ensuring that units used data from a variety of sources in summative evaluations. Academic units should also consider how assessment methods and process should vary based on faculty rank, appointment, and career stage.

Peer review might consist of peer review of course syllabi, course shells, lesson plans, lectures, assignments, student artifacts and/or student performance data.  Peer review could also involve peer observations of either videos of class session or live class sessions.

Student feedback might consist of OMETs or other student surveys or focus groups designed to assess teaching effectiveness.

Teaching materials and course artifacts could include course syllabi, course shells, lesson plans, lectures, assignments, and/or student artifacts.

Self-assessments may include narrative reflective statements, teaching inventories or surveys, self-assessment rubrics, and/or teaching inventories.

My academic unit is concerned about the feasibility and sustainability of new measures of teaching effectiveness. What are some strategies for planning for feasibility and sustainability?

  1. Invite faculty to be involved in the creation of the assessment of teaching plan and the development of tools and processes.
  2. Begin by defining teaching effectiveness within your discipline. Measures, tools, and processes should align with this definition.
  3. Identify what your academic unit is already doing to assess teaching and build on i. What aspects of current practices are working well? Which practices require revision? Are there gaps that need to be filled?
  4. Identify exemplars of assessment of teaching practices within and outside of Pitt. Examine exemplars to determine whether you can adopt or adapt these practices within your academic unit.
  5. Request support from the Teaching Center. The Assessment of Teaching Initiative website contains a repository of resources, readings, and existing validated tools. You can also request an individualized consultation or feedback on a draft assessment of teaching plan.
  6. Remember that assessment of teaching plans can change. In fall of 2021, pilot the methods you described in your plans. Iteratively revise and improve assessment of teaching practices based on the pilot.

OMET FAQ

Who sees OMET results?

Beginning with spring 2021, all deans and campus presidents will be given access to their school or campus survey results for all instructors of all ranks. Deans and campus presidents, in conjunction with their faculty and in accordance with each unit’s governance practices, will determine how the data are shared within their unit. For details see Provost Cudd’s memo on assessment of teaching.

How long are OMET results stored?

Electronic copies of survey results data are retained for ten years.

  • Go to your Teaching Survey Dashboard to view and download results beginning with fall 2016. Go to the Reports section of the page, the most current set of reports will appear. Click on the “archived” option to view older reports.
  • For copies of reports prior to fall 2016, please complete and submit a past results request form. A copy of your report will be emailed to you.

How should midterm course survey results be used?

The midterm course survey process is formative in nature. It is intended to provide faculty with feedback that can help gauge student learning and classroom atmosphere. It provides both faculty and students the opportunity to reflect and identify areas for improvement or change. It’s important to note that the five standard questions applied to OMET midterm surveys are at the course (not instructor) level. In instances where there are multiple instructors, results would be the same for each.

Results of OMET administered midterm surveys are released to faculty only. Read more about the OMET midterm survey process.

Teaching Center resources:

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