Teaching Practices Inventory

What is the Teaching Practices Inventory?

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?