Student Evaluations of Teaching Plus

Evaluation of Teaching

The evaluation of teaching serves three primary purposes. First, it serves a developmental purpose by providing instructors with information that can be used reflexively to adjust teaching and assessment practices. Second, it provides an opportunity to align programmatic goals and learning outcomes within and across units. Third, the contextual data from teaching evaluations can be used for administrative purposes by informing personnel decisions. In relation to this last point, Article 28 of the recent collective bargaining agreement between the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees and the AAUP notes that:

“Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET) can productively inform teaching effectiveness in particular areas. In gauging teaching effectiveness, however, SETs are not to be used as the sole criterion of teaching for disciplinary measures, promotion, tenure or reappointment, or for re-appointment, or for non-reappointment with respect to full-time faculty and adjunct faculty who have been employed by the University for at least five (5) semesters over a five (5) calendar year period, including summer sessions.”

SET + approaches to Evaluation of Teaching

SET instruments gather the collective views of a group of students about their experience in a course. SET’s can be one source of information for developmental, alignment, and administrative purposes in the teaching and learning process, if they are used in thoughtful ways. Productive use of the SET student feedback is facilitated by good practices, including for example the addition of course relevant questions by instructors, coding of comment data, or summarization of data by somebody else (or CETL) that is then shared with the instructor. It is important to remember that student experience ratings are not direct measures of student learning.

Formative assessment refers to a variety of feedback gathering methods instructors can use to collect detailed information that can be used to improve instruction and student learning during the semester. Formative assessment strategies are specific to each course and can include non-standardized surveys or customized versions of a template (e.g. as mid-semester survey or first-time administration of the standard end-of course survey). In contrast, summative assessment is a culminating look back at the overall experience in a course; a one-time collection of information.

Collecting data with a variety of different methods (SET+) strengthens the validity of the evaluation strategy. Multiple lines of evidence can include qualitative and quantitative measures that provide a more holistic view of the extent to which course learning objectives were accomplished successfully.

To be supportive, equitable and fair, the teaching evaluation process should allow for flexibility to accommodate diversity in pedagogical choices, instructional methods, and course formats employed in different disciplines or departments (e.g., lecture, discussion, lab, case study, small group interaction, practicum, studio teaching, field work, clinical work, etc.).

Good evaluation practice includes, but is not limited to, the following elements:

  • Inclusion of multiple measures from multiple perspectives: e.g.: self, student, peers (in same unit or different institution)
  • Calibration and training in the use of tools and procedures selected to maintain integrity
  • Weighted measures according to assigned responsibilities (the percent of effort that is devoted to teaching)
  • Formative assessments for early adjustment opportunities
  • Agreed upon timepoints to revisit process or repeat measures

CETL supports and encourages the development of department specific approaches. We are looking forward to being part of the conversation in your department.

Do you have questions or need help with this process? Would you like your department’s innovative process for evaluation of excellence in teaching showcased on our website? Please contact Martina Rosenberg (martina.rosenberg@uconn.edu).

Guiding Principles for Development in Instruction
Educational developers, including CETL staff, operate under guiding principles of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, in particular the principles of

  • Confidentiality and
  • Growth oriented support

Our role is anchored in the developmental purpose of evaluation, can support programmatic alignment efforts, but does not extend to in the administrative purpose of evaluation.

Instruments that may be included into a teaching evaluation strategy
The following limited list of options is to be used as starting point for exploration and is neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. Depending on your discipline and programmatic goals, other instruments might be better suited, provided that they are valid.

Peer perspective
Contact CETL@uconn.edu to arrange a training for your faculty group on good practices if you are interested in using any of these tools.
Instruments and Procedures Resources and Best Practices
Calibrated peer observations ·      The observation process
·      selecting an observation instrument
·      Mitigating bias in observations
Peer assessments ·      Discipline-based practices
·      External expert ratings
·      Rubrics, checklists or other?
Teaching materials review ·      Learning objectives and outcomes
·      Syllabus design and tone
·      Exam format and grading structure
·      Authentic assessment strategies
·      Course material
Course formats & design ·      Teaching large classes
·      Course alignment
·      Online teaching
·      Hybrid courses
·      Feedback from team taught courses
·      Increasing inclusivity in the classroom
·      Assessing independent studies
Evidence of risk taking to enhance the learning process ·      Creative methods in teaching
·      Understanding untraditional class format
·      Design of interdisciplinary or collaborative courses
Scholarship ·      Action research, SoTL and DBER
Contribution to the education process ·      Products, e.g. manuscripts, textbooks, courseware, videos, case studies
Recognition related to teaching and learning ·      Awards
·      Grant support
·      Invitations to speak, facilitate a workshop
Curricular development ·      Alignment courses and programmatic goals
·      Detect opportunities with assessment
Student/instructor communication ·      Communicating expectations
·      Giving and receiving feedback
·      Encouraging feedback
·      Motivating students
Engagement with the teaching and learning process ·      Professional development related to teaching and learning
·      Service on teaching committees
·      Assistance of colleagues
·      Communities of practice
·      Teaching squares
Student perspective
Contact CETL@uconn.edu to arrange an individual consultation on effective use for professional development or training for your faculty group on good practices if you are interested in using any of these tools.
Instruments and Procedures Resources and Best Practices
Classroom interviews ·      Group instructional feedback technique
Student interviews
Recent student perceptions ·      Exit interviews
·      Alumni ratings
Student outcomes ·      Student exam performance,
·      grade distribution,
·      student success in following classes
SETs ·      How to use of SETs productively
·      Choosing additional questions for SETs
Student focus group ·      Using focus group to develop program exit surveys
Mentoring and Advising ·      Student support
·      Mentorship in teaching & learning
Instructor perspective
Contact CETL@uconn.edu to arrange an individual consultation on effective use of these tools as professional development.
Instruments and Procedures Resources and Best Practices
Teaching portfolio (includes perspectives of others as well) ·      Portfolio
·      Teaching statement and teaching philosophy
·      Diversity statement
Reflection ·      Reflective practices
·      Reflections in response to prompts, e.g. SETs, observation, education talk, end of semester
Teaching practice inventory
Teaching journal

Check back, more information will be added here.

Documentation of Teaching Excellence

The educational process has many facets. Depending on your unit, or disciplinary culture, customizing an evaluation strategy may require additional components, e.g. inclusive practices, professional instructor/student interaction skills, impact on the teaching of others or incorporate expectations set by professional organizations. After determining what effective teaching looks like in a particular context, reliable information should be solicited from the source that has first-hand experience with a performance component.

An example matrix of a teaching evaluation strategy
Evaluation Components Evaluation Sources
Self Student Peers Department Head Other
Instructional design skills 😊 😊 😊 N/A TBD
Content expertise

😊

N/A

😊

😊

TBD
Instructional delivery skills

😊

😊

N/A N/A TBD
Course management 😊 N/A N/A 😊 TBD
Student achievement 😊 😊 N/A N/A TBD
Other TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
Notes: TBD- to be determined; N/A-not applicable.
Based on: R.A.Arreola (2004). Any version of this table does not replace a rubric with defined levels of proficiency.

Contact CETL@uconn.edu to arrange for confidential individual consultation, to brainstorm appropriate components, to discuss good evaluation practices or to train your faculty group.