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Center for Teaching Excellence

Reflect on Your Teaching

How are we doing as teachers? We ask ourselves that question so that we can continually strive for excellence, and others ask that question to assist or assess our progress. This web page contains resources to support you in getting helpful feedback from your students and colleagues, to help you reflect on that feedback, and also to help you document your teaching for purposes of tenure and promotion.

Gathering Feedback from Students

Early Course Evaluations (Carnegie Mellon discusses how to design, execute, and learn from student evaluations done early in the semester)

Interpreting and Working with Your Course Evaluations (suggestions for reacting to comments on interim and final student evaluations, from Stanford)

Critical Assessment Techniques for Teachers (offers a variety of helpful suggestions for ways to get ongoing feedback from your students)

Beware of putting too much emphasis on student evaluations, though.  One careful study at the U.S. Air Force Academy showed that more experienced teachers got lower student evaluations, but that their students performed better on follow-up advanced courses.

Using Peer Feedback

While student evaluations are helpful in some respects, they are an insufficient and incomplete way to assess teaching. See Donald P. Hoyt & William H. Pallett, Appraising Teacher Effectiveness:  Beyond Student Ratings (a paper from the Idea Center). Colleagues are another important additional source of constructive and informative feedback on teaching.

These contain advice about setting up individual or departmental peer observation and feedback:

Peer Observation (guidelines and forms from the University of Minnesota)

Preparing for Peer Observation (extensive advice from UT)

Peer Observation and Assessment of Teaching (downloadable manual with forms and guidelines for setting up a departmental program)

A Mutual Mentoring network might also arrange to provide each other with teaching feedback, as noted in this advice from the National Education Association

Teaching Squares allow four faculty members to form a group that agrees to visit each others' classes during the semester and then meet to discuss what they've learned from their observations. Teaching Squares are meant to spur personal self-reflection rather than peer evaluation. Participants focus their conversations on what they’ve learned about their own teaching from the observation. Participants are encouraged to approach the process in a spirit of appreciation – even celebration – of the work of their colleagues.

Understanding Your Own Teaching Goals & Philosophy

These tools are intended to help you become more aware of what you want to accomplish in a particular course and to provide a starting point for discussion of teaching and learning among colleagues.

"Documenting Your Teaching," from George Mason University contains a number of useful resources for creating a teaching statement, including issues to consider and sample statements.

Teaching Goals Inventory

Creating a Teaching Portfolio

Document the quality and nature of your teaching by collecting appropriate material for a teaching portfolio.

Teaching Portfolios (overview and advice from the teaching center at Vanderbilt) 

Teaching Portfolio Handbook (guidance from Brown University)

Kenneth Wolf writes in the journal Educational Leadership: Developing an Effective Teaching Portfolio