Evaluation of Teaching Resources
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Office of the Provost
Teaching is evaluated as it relates to classroom teaching, direction of theses and dissertations, academic advisement, and extension programs. The following areas can be assessed, as appropriate:
- Evidence of competence and currency in subject matter, of proper organization and design of courses taught, of ability to present the subject matter in an interesting and clear manner that is appropriate for students at the level for which that course is designed;
- evidence of effective advising;
- effective direction of student research;
- expertise in development of curriculum;
- Evidence that teaching contributions are effective in light of the Department’s teaching mission.
Teaching effectiveness can be evaluated, using the following evidence:
- course evaluations;
- peer evaluation;
- construction of syllabi, assignments, classroom activities, etc.;
- pedagogical innovation.
Departments are cautioned to use course evaluations as demonstrating only one particular aspect of a faculty member’s teaching effectiveness, and not to rely solely on these numbers to assess a faculty member’s effectiveness.
Teaching is evaluated from several different perspectives:
- Electronic course evaluations are completed by students for every course. For guidelines, see: My Course Evals (Campus Labs – CTL).
- Untenured assistant professors receive annual peer evaluations. Tenured faculty receive peer evaluations, as determined by their department.
- Department Review Committees and Chairs, at the time of annual evaluation or RPT review, look at select teaching materials provided by the faculty in their portfolios.
Course evaluations are an important part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. Faculty use the evaluations to inform their teaching. Review committees, department chairs, the Dean, and the Provost use the evaluations as one of many data points to evaluate faculty.
It should be noted that course evaluations, including student satisfaction reported in the course evaluations, are only one piece of a much larger instructional evaluation portfolio that departments and the college use to evaluate teaching effectiveness of our faculty. We encourage a holistic evaluative approach that may include, but not be limited to: student course evaluations, peer evaluations, audit of course syllabi, mid-term course and faculty evaluations, and other means that capture effective teaching.
Procedures for Conducting Peer Evaluations of Classroom Teaching
A. General Information About Peer Reviews. The procedures described here satisfy the requirements set forth in the policies governing the University of North Carolina System and are to be considered the minimum requirements for peer review of classroom teaching in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Departments are expected to develop their own specific procedures and criteria for evaluation within the framework offered here.
These procedures are required for the evaluation of classroom teaching of all non tenure-track faculty, non-tenured tenure-track faculty, and graduate assistants who have teaching assignments. Although not mandatory for tenured faculty, it is strongly recommended that all faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences make periodic use of peer review of classroom teaching.
Although the primary purpose of these procedures is to assist in the evaluation of classroom teaching, it should be remembered that peer evaluation should also be used as a means to suggest improvements. Thus, the peer review process should be viewed as important both to ensure effective instruction and to provide information and documentation appropriate to the personnel review process. Given this importance, departments should implement and maintain a thorough and credible peer evaluation process.
B. Frequency of Peer Review. Faculty and graduate assistants with teaching assignments must be reviewed according to the following timetables. In each year prior to their tenure, non-tenured tenure-track faculty must be observed at least once, in a classroom or laboratory setting. In each year of their initial appointment, non-tenure-track faculty (e.g. lecturers) must be observed at least once, in a classroom or laboratory setting. In the initial year of their teaching assignment, graduate teaching assistants must be observed at least once, in a classroom or laboratory setting. Units may require additional observations as necessary.
C. Selection of Reviewers. Units must develop procedures to guide the selection of reviewers. Those procedures must allow for appropriate consultation in selecting reviewers. In so far as feasible, reviewers should be selected from the department of the faculty member being reviewed. Units are encouraged to utilize multiple reviewers when feasible.
D. Consultation. Reviewers are required to hold both pre- and post-classroom visit consultations with the person being observed.
The Pre-visit consultation must include the selection of class date or potential dates of visit, a discussion of the departmental criteria for peer evaluation of classroom teaching, discussion of the goals of the instructor for that course, and discussion of the particular class meeting to be observed. An observation date must be agreed upon by the reviewer and person to be observed as early as possible, but not less than 48 hours before any classroom visit. Observers should be provided all necessary course materials for a full and proper evaluation, including the specific syllabus for the course being observed.
It is expected that the reviewer will attend the entire class being reviewed, except in usual circumstances (e.g., 3 hour labs) in which a shorter visitation may be appropriate.
The Post-visit consultation should take place as soon as possible following the classroom visitations, not exceeding ten working days. This consultation provides an opportunity for feedback and discussion regarding the classroom visit, the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the instructor, and possible alternative teaching approaches.
E. Written Evaluation. Each reviewer must submit a written evaluation of the visited class to both the Department Chair and the person observed in a timely manner (i.e., it is recommended no more than 10 working days following the classroom visit). The specific format of this written evaluation should be that deemed appropriate by the department of the faculty person who was observed.
This written evaluation must be based on the criteria established by the observed person’s department. Written evaluations must also include the name(s) of the reviewer(s) and the person observed; how the reviewer was selected (e.g., by Department Chair) and the departmental affiliation of the reviewer; the date, time, and place of the visit; the course observed and topic(s) covered; the number of students in attendance; and the length of the observation. The reviewers must sign the submitted evaluation. The person observed must also sign the evaluation to acknowledge that he/she has received a copy.
The person observed may submit a self-evaluation and/or commentary on the reviewer’s written evaluation to the Department Chair if he/she wishes. Such commentary should be submitted in a timely manner following the receipt of the reviewer’s written evaluation (i.e., no more than 10 working days following receipt of the reviewer’s written evaluation).
All written evaluations and responses from the person observed must be included in any file submitted for reappointment or tenure.
Criteria for Written Evaluations. Departments are required to develop their own criteria for evaluation of classroom visits by peer reviewers. Departments may elect to develop different criteria for different courses when appropriate. Department criteria must be announced to all faculty in the Department and specifically presented to the person who will be observed during each pre-visit consultation. All written evaluations of classroom visits must be based on the criteria established by the department of the person observed.
Written reviews of classroom teaching should include description and evaluation for each of the following items.
- The content material presented in class should be evaluated. For example, departmental criteria may assess content for accuracy, currency, significance, and appropriateness of level among other content-related factors.
- The way the material is presented should also be assessed. For example, departmental criteria may assess presentation for clarity, organization, delivery, the use of instructional materials, the encouragement of and response to questions, among other presentation-related factors.
Climate of Class. The classroom environment should be assessed. The departmental assessment of climate-related factors may include, but is not limited to, the following: whether the climate of a class is conducive to learning for a diverse group of students; the instructor’s ability to control the class as appropriate; the instructor’s sensitivity to social, cultural, gender, ethnic group, and other differences; and the quantity and quality of student participation.
- The teaching strategy(ies) selected by the instructor should be assessed. Among other strategy-related factors, departmental criteria may assess the fit between an instructor’s stated goals and the strategy(ies) he/she employs; the class format (e.g., lecture, discussion, small groups); the examples used to illustrate concepts or points; the appropriateness, relevance, and importance of supplemental materials; and the appropriateness of the organization and level of materials for students in the class.
F. Resolving Disagreements. Departments should establish procedures to deal with disagreements between reviewers (if multiple) and between reviewers and the observed faculty. Such procedures should include replacement of reviewers, the commentary of the faculty member being observed, and requests for additional reviews.
Guidelines for Interpreting Quantitative Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET)
Prepared by CLAS Departmental Diversity Liaisons, UNC Charlotte (5-10-2012)
The use of student evaluations of teaching (SET) is a common and widespread practice in higher education. Research on the quality and interpretations of data generated from student evaluations has identified strengths and weaknesses of using these data as part of both formative and summative evaluations. Generally, SET data are best conceptualized as one source of information, that when used properly and in conjunction with multiple other sources of information, may provide useful insight.
Allowing for the various strategies employed in collecting and analyzing SET data across departments and units we have created these guidelines to highlight key findings and best practices generated by research on these topics. No set of guidelines will provide exhaustive coverage or nuanced and contextualized recommendations—rather, we hope that these guidelines will serve as a starting point for discussions within departments and the college prior to and during the evaluation of faculty.
An inclusive work environment is one that values differences based on gender, race, age, marital status, family status, political affiliations, religious beliefs, educational background, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, disabilities and other non-job-related factors.
Factors other than teaching competence that can influence student evaluations of teaching.
- Student-year: First year students tend to give the lowest ratings; graduate students the highest Course-level: Student tend to give lower ratings in required courses than in electives
- Instructor ethnicity: Students sometimes give faculty lower ratings based on their race/ethnicity
- English as a second language: Students sometimes give lower ratings to instructors who speak English as a second language.
- Discipline: Students sometimes give lower ratings to women in male-dominated disciplines such as science, mathematics, economics, engineering and philosophy, or to men in female-dominated disciplines such as nursing. Gender: Students can have different expectations for male and female teachers and sometimes give higher ratings to members of their own gender.
- Field of Study: Classes in the sciences and engineering may receive lower ratings than those in the humanities.
Guidelines for Interpreting SET results:
- Look for patterns over time. Compare multiple courses across multiple semesters to form generalizations about teaching effectiveness
- Remember that the sample is not random and therefore may not be representative of the entire class
- Do not over-interpret small differences in median ratings
- Do not use university- or college-norm results as line separating “failing” and “passing” teaching performance. Ask: Are one or two low student ratings affecting the results in a small class?
- Ask: Does this instructor receive consistently better ratings for some skills than others (preparation, clear assignments, receptivity to students)?
- Ask: Are SET ratings influenced by larger class size or course outside a student’s major?
- Ask: Are SET ratings in particular classes bi-modal, as sometimes occurs in classes that include politically charged topics?
- Recognize that when there are responses from small numbers of students, percentages may not be meaningful.
* Adapted from University of Connecticut Faculty Standards Committee 2011. “Interpreting Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET) Results: Guidelines for Deans, Department Heads and Faculty.” April 7, 2011.