Teaching Effectiveness


Background
In the fall of 2015, the Faculty Senate Committee on Faculty Development charged the Office of Faculty Development & Teaching Excellence with investigating what Teaching Effectiveness at Augusta University meant and how it might be evaluated. Shortly thereafter, the above committee was formed and we began meeting to create a framework for this task. After extensive reading and discussing the literature, the Teaching Effectiveness Ad Hoc Committee (TEAHC) at Augusta University came up with a definition for Teaching Effectiveness. Because we believe that teaching should not be solely evaluated on a list of courses and student rating summaries, we set out to create a synthesis of the components of teaching. Stemming from our collective work, this definition relies on three separate but equally important areas of teaching: Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions. We further suggest, that Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions may be measured in many different ways to achieve a fair, authentic, and unbiased assessment of teaching effectiveness. Given the diversity of programs at Augusta University, this committee is reticent in suggesting the actual instruments to be used for measuring Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions; but instead, will suggest that programs and colleges work together to create measures of their own and particular to assessment measures that to achieve fair, authentic, and unbiased evaluation in their own disciplines (i.e. evaluating the arts may be a qualitative process, where measuring math and science, a quantitative method may be best. Eisner, 2005). We have, however, made suggestions for where faculty and
administrators might find help in developing instruments and measures.

Definition of Teaching Effectiveness at Augusta University
Effective Teaching at Augusta University means that the instructor, through research, study,
and practice has created a finely honed set of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that enables
successful teaching performance.

Knowledge
As instructors consider the subject matter, there is an expectation of competence in the
academic field of study and also a broad understanding of ways in which that knowledge is best
communicated.

• Advanced knowledge and study of the subject
• Understanding the content from different perspectives
• Deep pedagogical knowledge

Skills
As instructors plan and deliver content to students, there is a need for multiple approaches of
that delivery so as to reach a broad spectrum of students. In so doing, the instructor can
connect content knowledge with the interests and needs of students in diverse and engaging
ways.

• Ability to use a wide variety of pedagogical strategies
• Ability to communicate expectations clearly
• Ability to motivate students’ interests and learning
• Ability to develop critical thinking skills (making connections)
• Ability to create fair and appropriate assessment

Dispositions
As instructors interact with students, verbal and non-verbal behaviors demonstrate and
communicate attitudes, values, and beliefs. These positive behaviors support student learning.

• Belief that students will succeed
• Interest in the perspective of others as a path to understanding the whole student as a learner
• Investment in student growth and individual academic achievement
• Sensitivity to diversity and equity

The 15 Sources of Evidence for Teaching Effectiveness
As outlined in Berk (2005, 2014), there are 15 different sources of evidence that can be used to evaluate teaching Effectiveness. As Berk suggests, “There is no perfect source or combination of sources (Berk, 2014, p. 87-88),” no one should rely on the triangulation of sources to garner strength, accuracy and reliability from any single evaluation. Triangulation of multiple evaluation processes may be important. Much of the below is paraphrased from Berk’s, 2005 and 2014 articles on Strategies for Measuring Teaching Effectiveness.

1. Students Ratings
The primary measure of teaching effectiveness for the past 30 years. There is a trend to augment these ratings. Research confirms that student ratings are effective and valid way to rate aspects of teaching effectiveness.

2. Peer Observations
Teaching and the preparation for teaching is a scholarly activity and should be judged by the same high standards applied to other forms of scholarship. Ratings can be recorded by observing teaching with one or more people on multiple occasions and from videotaped classes.

3. Peer Review of Course Materials
The quality of the course syllabus, instructional plans, texts, reading assignments, handouts, homework, projects, and tests, grading practices, and professionalism can be rated. It is a complement to student ratings as it covers aspects of teaching that students are not in a position to evaluate.

4. External Expert Ratings
Expert ratings

5. Self Ratings
This evidence can provide evidence for what instructors do in the classroom by presenting a different picture of teaching effectiveness that does not come from another source. This self evaluation demonstrates knowledge about teaching and perceived effectiveness. Using guidelines for how instructors approach this evidence is appropriate.

6. Videos
Videotaping a class can be used as hard evidence for teaching effectiveness. The TEAHC recommends that video may be used as a tool in conjunction with other measures of evidence.

7. Student Interviews
Group interviews with students provide a good source of evidence for which faculty seem to trust greater than individual student ratings. Classroom focus groups (with other than instructor), graduate exit interviews (with faculty or administrators), and quality control circles (instructor led over time) are several kinds of group interview types.

8. Exit and Alumni Ratings
Students remember a lot about their instructors and should be used to gain new information about quality of teaching, courses, curriculum, admissions, etc.

9. Employer Ratings
Tapping employers to evaluate employees to find out if the students, who have become employed with their companies, are successful, if the content they learned in their programs is relevant, or if there is curricular relevance. Job performance may be linked to individual teaching effectiveness, but on a very limited basis.

10. Mentor’s Review
Progress report written expressly for summative decisions

11. Administrator’s Ratings
Deans, Associate Deans, program directors, or department heads can evaluate faculty for teaching, research, and service. These ratings are usually sought from secondary sources, not direct observation.

12. Teaching Scholarship
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning becomes a public account of some or all of the full act of teaching in a manner that is reviewed by his or her peers and contributes to a growing body of knowledge in higher education. Presentations and publications on teachings and learning in innovative ways are indicators of teaching expertise.

13. Teaching Awards
If the teaching award nominee went through a rigorous evaluation by a panel of judges with criteria of for exemplary teaching, winning teaching awards would count as evidence for teaching effectiveness. The TEAHC at this time does not see evidence of this kind of evaluation and has determined that Teaching Awards are not considered evidence of teaching effectiveness.

14. Learning Outcome Measures
TEAHC suggests that Learning Outcome Measures (LOM) are an indirect way to show evidence of teaching effectiveness. Isolating teaching as the sole explanation for student learning is problematic. Many characteristics of students can affect student performance irrespective of what an instructor does in the classroom. TEAHC recommends that LOM be used with extreme caution.

15. Teaching Portfolio
The Teaching Portfolio is not a single source of evidence for instructor evaluation, it is a plethora of many of the previous sources assembled in a coherent and systematic array of the best evidence of teaching effectiveness (See examples). Work samples have been used in the business industry to measure performance for more than 50 years. Products of good teaching, material from oneself, and information from others are good ways to organize the dossier of teaching.