Will trying new teaching techniques tank my evaluations?

Ask a group of faculty members why they’re wary of experimenting with new ways of teaching, and they’re likely to assert that trying new things — especially if they misfire — can bring down their student evaluation numbers, and in turn hurt their chances for tenure or promotion.

Charles R. Henderson, a professor of physics education and co-founder of Western Michigan University’s Center for Research on Instructional Change in Postsecondary Education, hears that worry frequently as he visits campuses encouraging the use of active learning techniques and other alternatives to lecturing.

“It’s a huge thing that everybody cites and believes is true, even though I’m not aware of any data to support it,” Henderson says. “Usually what happens is that a professor thinks that because there are one or two students who complain about” a change in how the professor teaches, “the rest of the class must feel that way, too.”

[ Read the original article at Inside Higher Ed. ]

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