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Guidelines for Evaluation of Teaching

Purpose and Summary
If we want to increase the recognition and rewards for teaching, we must increase our mentoring and evaluation of teaching and make sure the Faculty Activity Reports and the merit system reflect this refinement. Excellent research and teaching are both essential for the award of tenure. We have been talking about better course evaluations, but any evaluation system must be richer than just one measure, and we propose these required and recommended evaluation measures

Required Indicators

  1. All course syllabi must articulate Learning Outcomes or Course Aims
    Accreditation bodies now require interrelated learning outcomes for all schools, degree programs and classes: in other words, articulated expectations for what students will do, what they should learn (or what sort of learning is most valued) and how this type of learning will be assessed. Grading rubrics are also highly recommended and are another way to help direct student learning. Teaching workshops and a syllabus template will guide faculty in developing syllabi.
  2. End of Semester Course Evaluations for all courses
    While crude measures, it is important that all P&T files include some basic information: list of courses, numbers of students, GPA, and student evaluation averages. A University system may supercede specific questions or procedures, but the goal is to have a very small number of required questions for comparison for every class and allow schools, divisions, and areas to ask additional more specific questions.

Optional Multiple Measures
Demonstration of quality teaching is required for Promotion and Tenure. These categories are also available on the FAR for demonstration of excellence in teaching.

  1. Teaching Review
    Teaching reviews are recommended in the 2nd and 5th year for candidates for tenure or promotion and for all faculty every 3-5 years. The Associate Dean for Faculty, in consultation with the Chairs, will appoint 5-10 tenured or emeritus faculty as qualified reviewers. They will meet at least once per year with the Associate Dean to review the policies and procedures for review. Assignment to this pool will be viewed as service to the School and count toward the reviewer’s school committee service. With the consent of the teacher under review, the Associate Dean will pair and assign reviewers and teachers. With two reviews required for tenure or promotion, at least one should be by a reviewer from outside the Division of the teacher. A Teaching Review should consist of:

    A review of course materials, including syllabi, learning outcomes, course handouts, assessments, a teaching portfolio, etc.
    • A discussion with the faculty member regarding approach to the course.
    • A minimum of two arranged classroom visits. (See peer observation form.)
    • A review of course evaluations, including narrative student comments.
    • A short focus group meeting with a small group of students. (This can also be done by separately by the CTE.)
    • A brief written report that includes an assessment of the written materials, learning outcomes, organization, instructional strategies, course content, presentation skills, appropriateness of assessments, a summary of comments from students, student achievement, and classroom interactions with students, is then submitted to the department chair for inclusion in the faculty member’s evaluation for promotion, tenure or annual review.
  2. Mid-Semester Evaluations
    The survey tool in BB makes it very easy to ask students evaluations at any time. These can then be used to make mid-semester improvements.
  3. Evidence of Improved Pedagogy
    There are many ways to improve courses: going to a teaching workshop or conference, revising content, learning outcomes or instructional strategy, creating course materials, creating a BB site, revising assessment techniques, writing a textbook, doing research on teaching, conducting student focus groups, involvement in new pedagogical strategies, and many more.
  4. Evidence of Student Achievement
    Student achievement should be connected to learning goals; there is increasing interest in not only how talented your students are, but in what value the school or teacher added. Winning competitions, getting a job, reviews, and other external awards demonstrate student achievement, but we also want to know what happens to average students. What percentage of students achieved satisfactory results after your class? Are there ways to demonstrate that they learned what you wanted them to learn?
  5. Evidence of Peer Respect or National Profile
    Being asked to write textbooks, give visiting lectures, or master classes at other universities are also signs of teaching excellence.
  6. Teaching Portfolio
    A Teaching Portfolio (paper or ePortfolio) has become a standard part of a tenure dossier. It usually includes a statement of teaching philosophy and some of the materials listed above.
  7. Video Observation of Teaching by CTE
    SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence will film any SMU professor. You can review this privately and/or review it with a member of the CTE staff. This is entirely confidential and can be included in a teaching portfolio or discarded. 

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