It is worth articulating assumptions and guiding principles for a process of supporting, rewarding and ultimately evaluating teaching. These principles emerged after years of discussion on this topic at DU.
Learning to teach is not a one-time endeavor. Teaching is a lifelong practice that involves ongoing reflection and engagement in continuous improvement. The support, reward and evaluation of teaching should take a developmental approach.
Instructors all have different developmental trajectories, different interests, strengths, and contexts for teaching. Therefore plenty of choice and flexibility should be provided within some required areas of development. The process should be individualized and self-directed.
There is no one "right way" to teach. But at the same time, there are widely agreed-upon evidence-based standards of best practice.
In order to improve teaching, reflection by the instructor is essential. The intellectual work of teaching - the deeper thinking about ones teaching practice - is harder to represent and evaluate than the more superficial aspects of teaching.
Any summative judgment about an instructor's teaching should be based on multiple types of data points collected from multiple sources (students, instructor, chair, peer/colleagues, external experts). Qualitative or narrative sources of evidence are essential due to the complicated nature of teaching.
The main focus of teaching support and evaluation should be on the process of continually enhancing the teaching practice.
Similarly, other universities have created guidelines for practice such as UMass Amherst.
Principles for Evaluation of Teaching Practices at UMass Amherst
Following from our review of current practices and our own experiences, the Working Group identified a set of principles to guide future teaching evaluation activity:
• Evaluation should include multiple dimensions of teaching : categories of activities that capture the teaching endeavor in its totality, including aspects that take place outside of the classroom.
• Evaluation should include multiple lenses : multiple sources and types of data, including faculty self -report (e.g., course materials, evidence of student learning and reflections on it), peer input (e.g., class visits, review of course materials, discussions with the instructor), and student voices (e.g., course ev aluations, alumni feedback).
• Evaluation should involve triangulation : no measure should be used in isolation , and analysis and interpretation should include an acknowledgement of the ways in which these measures provide reinforcing and/or conflicting perspectives on an instructor’s effectiveness.
• Both formative and summative uses of the data must be possible to maximize the impact on teaching effectiveness. In addition, the evidence should be useful in a longitudinal view (over courses, semesters, and years ) so that improvement over time can be documented.
• There must be a balance between uniformity across departments and customization to different disciplines in order to maximize usefulness to the administration as well as faculty.
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