Teaching Evaluation Policy
The evaluation of teaching has two distinct purposes: Formative and Summative
Formative evaluation is that which gathers information for the use of the instructor in improving his or her own teaching. The SGID process is an example of formative assessment. Summative evaluation gathers information to be used by colleagues and administrators for the purpose of making decisions about retention, tenure, promotion, and merit salary increases. The SELFI is an example of summative assessment.
Although the policy set forth here applies only to summative evaluation of teaching, the information collected in the course of the evaluation process may also be used for formative evaluation when appropriate. It is important to note, however, that information gathered solely for purposes of formative evaluation is intended only for the use of the faculty member, and should be used in summative reviews only with his/ her permission.
The teaching performance of all instructors, regardless of their academic rank or tenure status, is subject to evaluation annually.
- All faculty, regardless of status (probationary, tenured, and non-tenure track), must be evaluated as part of the annual review process, as well as for decisions regarding tenure and promotion. In each case, the faculty member being evaluated is expected to provide evidence of effective teaching in the form of at least three sources of data, one of which must be students.
- Graduate teaching assistants must be evaluated annunally as well, in a manner appropriate to their teaching assignment.
The evaluation process should reflect the full range of teaching activities, including classroom teaching, mentoring, course and curriculum development, laboratory, clinical, or studio supervision, direction of independent research projects, scholarly/grant activity related to teaching, learning assessment activity, advising, etc.
Although it is important to acknowledge the unique nature of each individual's teaching situation, and to set flexible standards accordingly, it is UND policy (as stated in the Faculty Handbook IV, 3) that all instructors will be able to show evidence of these five basic hallmarks of good teaching:
- respect for students
- command of the subject matter
- careful preparation
- effective communication
- continuing professional growth
Role of the College
It is the role of the college to ensure that evaluation of teaching is conducted in a fair and reasonable manner, and with as much consistency as possible across the college. In addition to the expectations outlined here, each college may specify other aspects of teaching to be evaluated and other sources of data on teaching to be supplied by the department and/or faculty member.
Role of the Department
It is the role of the department to set reasonable expectations in regard to teaching, to communicate those expectations clearly, and to assist and support faculty in their professional development as teachers. Toward this end, each department shall develop a written statement of expectations for effective teaching within the department. At minimum, this statement should address the basic expectations, each department may specify other aspects of teaching to be evaluated, additional expectations to be met, and additional documentation materials to be supplied by the faculty member. The department's statement on teaching evaluation policy should be kept on file in the department, distributed to each department member, and attached to all recommendations regarding retention, tenure, promotion, and reward going beyond the department. The department should also be prepared to assist faculty in meeting departmental expectations, and/or to refer them to appropriate campus resources to support their teaching.
Role of the Faculty Member
It is the role of the faculty member, in collaboration with the department chair, to take an active part in his or her evaluation by providing materials that give a complete picture of his/her teaching, by organizing those materials in an accessible manner, and by making herself/himself available for discussion of those materials with peers and administrators. In addition to materials required by the department, college, and university, the individual faculty member may submit any additional materials deemed appropriate to the evaluation process.
As noted earlier, each faculty member being evaluated is expected to provide evidence of effective teaching in the form of at least three sources of data in consultation with the chair, one of which must be students.
Student-Provided Data - may be gathered using the SELFI or other student feedback forms, and/ or by carefully documenting student feedback gathered by the department chair or immediate teaching supervisor. All student data will be offered voluntarily.
The other two sources of data to be used in the evaluation of teaching may vary from one department to the next. They include:
- Documented Evidence of Student Learning or Performance - student work samples, performances, test results, etc.
- Instructor-Provided Materials/Portfolios - may include reflective statements on teaching, syllabi, descriptions of class activities, writing assignments, tests, videotapes, evidence of scholarly activity related to teaching, lists of classes taught, independent projects or these supervised, graduate committees served on, reports on course or curriculum development work, written responses to student feedback, etc.
- Documented Data from Peers - based on formal observation of classroom teaching, review of teaching materials/portfolios, or observations of other teaching-related work (in graduate committees, curriculum planning sessions, etc.)
- Documented Data from the Chair - based on formal observation of classroom teaching, review of teaching materials/portfolios, or observations of other teaching-related work (in graduate committees, curriculum planning sessions, etc.)
NDUS policy states that "evaluations of all teaching faculty must include significant student input" (Section: 605.1.6 - Academic Freedom and Tenure; Academic Appointments). In order to present a broat and accurate view of teaching, summative data should be gathered regularly, from a wide range of classes over several semesters. It is the responsibility of the department and/or college, to create appropriate mechanisms for gathering student input.
In addition to soliciting formal feedback for summative purposes, faculty are encouraged to solicit frequent informal feedback for purely formative purposes - that is, for the sole purpose of improving teaching and learning. Informal feedback may take the form of SGIDs, informal surveys, or other classroom assessment techniques and may be used by the individual teacher as he or she sees fit. Unless and until the instructor chooses to offer such data to evaluators, it should not be part of the evaluation process.
When formal numerical data is mixed with informal written data, as is often the case with student feedback forms, only the numerical data will be reported to the chair and dean. However, because it is important that teaching not be reduced to a numerical rating, it is recommended that faculty share student written comments with evaluators as well. At the same time, because written student comments represent only the perspective of those who choose to make them, it is also recommended that department and college evaluators recognize the limitations of such provided by students on anonymous end-of-semester questionnaires is protected by FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act), all reasonable care must be taken to see that such data is not traceable to individual students.
Aggregate data from the USAT forms will be complied by the Office of Institutional Research and distributed to individual faculty members, department chairs, and deans. Any other aggregate data used for comparison purposes in the evaluation of individual faculty members should also be made available to those faculty members.
The following section contains information for both Departments & Faculty; Individual Departments and Individual Faculty.
Communicate Expectations for Effective Teaching
- careful preparation
- command of the subject matter
- continuing professional growth
- effective communication
- respect for students
In most cases, departments will want to specify additional expectations. If your department has written expectations that it would be willing to share, we would be pleased to post them here as examples from UND.
Establish a Supportive Department Culture
What can a department do to create and sustain a departmental culture that supports teaching? Here are five suggestions.
Some departments already do this, of course-and they report that the discussions are nearly always energizing. Faculty get ideas from each and discover common problems. They learn to see teaching as an intellectually engaging enterprise, as challenging and as rewarding as other kinds of scholarly work.
There are all kinds of ways to organize a discussion. Here are a few:
- Invite a faculty member who has just designed a new course or redesigned an existing one to talk to the department about what he/she has done.
- Set up a panel of department members to talk about a common issue in teaching in your discipline (e.g., active learning in large classes, alternatives to the term paper, working with small groups, etc.).
- Distribute an article about teaching (either in your discipline or in general) and invite faculty to discuss it together. (If you need some ideas or recommendations, contact TTaDA. Or, if you subscribe to the Chronicle of Higher Education, check out their weekly on-line Teaching Letter.)
- Bring in an outside speaker-perhaps someone from another campus who has published an interesting pedagogical article in your field, or someone from UND who has a special interest in teaching.
Too many of us are uncomfortable having colleagues visit our classes. Maybe that's because the only time they do this is when they're evaluating us. If we exchange visits on a more informal basis, we develop an appreciation for different styles of teaching.
Many new faculty come to us with little or no teaching experience. Instead of waiting
for evaluations to show problems with teaching, take a pro-active stance and match
newcomers up with supportive mentors right from the start.
In addition to visiting each other's classes (see above), mentoring pairs might want to read each other's syllabi and assignments, talk about teaching problems, or review and discuss student evaluations.
The mentor may be someone from your own department or, if you prefer, someone from outside. If your new colleague is in the Alice Clark Mentoring Program or the Clinical Instructors Mentoring Program, suggest that he/ she look for a mentor to help with teaching.
TTaDA offers a variety of programs that bring faculty across disciplines together to talk about teaching. Look under the "Programming" tab on the left of the main page.
The scholarship of teaching and learning, sometimes referred to as SoTL, is a phrase coined by Ernest Boyer and his colleagues at the Carnegie Academy for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CASTL). It refers to research on teaching and learning in their own classes, done by faculty using a variety of scholarly/research approaches. On the national level, a number of universities are actively promoting and rewarding this kind of scholarly work. Here at UND, our Bush Teaching Scholars Program has also focused on SoTL.
By recognizing the value of the scholarship of teaching and learning, and by encouraging and rewarding faculty who have an interest in pursuing it, the department sends an important message about the importance of teaching as intellectual activity.
Keep it Simple and Workable
Taking teaching evaluation seriously requires work. But the work doesn't have to be
overwhelming, for either the individual faculty member or the department. Although
it will take some time to get a workable system in place, once that system is established,
the evaluation process itself should run relatively smoothly.
If you're worried that evaluation will take too much of your department's time, here are some suggestions for getting started.
Although you'll be looking at multiple sources of data, and considering a full range of teaching activities, remember this: It's not necessary to try to make fine distinctions by rating faculty performance on a series of five-point scales and then comparing those ratings across departments. Such methods obscure the variety and complexity of teaching and are particularly hard on inexperienced faculty. Instead, focus on what you really want to know: Is this person:
- teaching reasonably well
- doing an outstanding job
- having difficulties that need to be addressed?
Another way to stay focuses is to keep your list of expectations for effective teaching fairly short. You might want to start with the list of five basic expectations specified by UND policy and then check to see if your college has added anything to that list.
Once you have a list, consider: What sources of data would help evaluate the faculty member's performance in each of these areas? It may be useful to set up a chart that outlines where you will look for evidence of each expectation.
If you keep the important questions in sight and focus on a few basic indicators of performance, you may find that evaluation isn't as difficult as you thought. Then you can spend your time on the really important stuff: creating a supportive culture for teaching in your department (see above).
The following chart shows what kinds of data a department might use to evaluate each of the five basic teaching expectations specified in the UND teaching evaluation policy. Remember that both the college and the department have the option of listing additional expectations. In this example, for instance, the department has added an expectation of "work with graduate students."
|Student-Provided Data||Instructor-Provided Data||Peer/Chair Provided Data|
|Respect for Students||SELFI forms and other student feedback||Portfolio: sample comments on papers||Peer observation report*|
|Command of Subject Matter||N/A||Portfolio: syllabus and course materials||Peer observation* and review of teaching portfolio|
|Careful Preparations||SELFI Forms||Portfolio: course materials||Peer observation* and review of teaching portfolio|
|Effective Communication||SELFI forms and other student feedback||Portfolio: course materials||Peer observation* and review of teaching portfolio|
|Continuing Professional Growth||N/A||Portfolio: reflective commentary||Chair's observation on progress since last review|
|Work with Graduate Students||Feedback from grad student survey||Portfolio: Self Report||Grad director's comments|
* Notice that if there is not a system of peer visitation of classes, there are still other kinds of evidence for each of these. Thus, if peer observation is impractical, the department could rely on peer review of teaching portfolios instead.
- an overview of teaching responsibilities
- a set of course materials from one or two classes
- student evaluations from those classes*
- a reflective commentary on these particular classes and student evaluations
Give faculty the option of including more if they want to, but set a page limit so the reviewers aren't overwhelmed. After you've gone through the process a time or two, and faculty are in the habit of keeping teaching portfolios, you can always specify additional required items.
*Note: Although it's not required by University policy, some colleges or departments may ask that all student evaluations be considered as part of the review process.
According to UND Policy, evaluation should "reflect the full range of teaching activities" that faculty engage in. Such activities may include (but are not limited to):
- classroom teaching, mentoring
- course and curriculum development
- laboratory, clinical, or studio supervision
- direction of independent research projects
- scholarly/ grant activity related to teaching
- learning assessment activity
- academic/career advising
Notice that some of the activities listed under "teaching" here overlap with other
categories of faculty work. For instance, "scholarly activity related to teaching,"
when it is written up and disseminated to the larger community, should probably be
regarded as "research." And "academic/career advising" may be regarded as "service"
if it involves only advice on making up a course schedule.
Before you begin to think about how to document your teaching, find out how your department defines teaching and what their expectations are. Then make a list of all the things you do that fulfill or exceed those expectations. Ask yourself which of these things merit special attention? (For instance, developing several new courses, grading writing assignments in large classes, teaching especially difficult courses, directing several graduate theses, mentoring a less experienced colleague, supervising TA's, putting course materials on-line, etc.) As you prepare to document your teaching, consider all these aspects of teaching, not just the most visible ones.
Demonstrate Your Commitment
Good teachers are always looking for better ways to engage and motivate students, to design course activities, and to help students learn. So it makes sense that the new teaching evaluation policy asks faculty to show "evidence of continued professional growth" as a teacher. How can you do that? Here are some ideas.
- Take time to reflect thoughtfully on your teaching. Keep a teaching journal, or write down your thoughts about each class as you finish it. Faculty who do this always report that it is time well spent.
- Keep up with the literature on teaching and learning. Most disciplines have journals that publish articles about pedagogy in the field. But some of the most interesting reading is cross-disciplinary. The TTaDA Library offers many kinds of books and journals related to teaching. Selecting just one a year to read and write about or discuss with others is a great way to stay intellectually engaged with teaching.
- Talk about teaching with colleagues--both within your department and across the university. You may think you don't have time for this, but conversations about teaching can be one of the most rewarding and energizing experiences in faculty life. TTaDA offers a variety of ways to converse with colleagues. And the Midterm Student Feedback Program (SGID) provides an even more structured way to get some feedback on your teaching by trained faculty colleagues.
- If you need help, ask for it! Few of us are "born teachers." And many of us start our careers with no formal training in teaching. That means we're likely to struggle in our first years of teaching-or even later in our careers when we're trying to deal with change. If you know you're having difficulties, the worst thing you can do is keep your worries to yourself. Instead, confide in a trusted colleague. Or, if you're worried about how this will be seen in your department, contact TTaDA. We are always happy to consult informally with faculty members about their teaching-and all such conversations are confidential.