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3 Aligning the Cultures of Research and Teaching in Higher Education In calculating academic rewards, it has been painfully difficult to evaluate the quality of research as separated from its mass. Nevertheless, departments and deans find that for passing judgment on peers, research productivity is a much more manageable criterion than teaching effectiveness. Faculty gossip, student evaluations, and alumni testimonials have all been notoriously weak reeds, and reliable self-evaluation is all but impossible…. At this point promotion and tenure committees still find teaching effectiveness difficult to measure. Publication is at least a perceptible tool; the relative ease of its use has reinforced the reliance on it for tenure and promotion decisions. Evaluating good teaching will always be difficult, but effective integration of research and teaching should be observable, as should the development of interdisciplinary approaches to learning. Departments and deans must be pressed to give significant rewards for evidence of integrated teaching and research and for the imagination and effort required by interdisciplinary courses and programs. When publication is evaluated, attention should be paid to the pedagogical quality of the work as well as to its contribution to scholarship. Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University (1998, p. 41)
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Both within and outside higher education, the perception (and too often the reality) is that at many colleges and universities, research productivity is valued more than teaching effectiveness (e.g., Bleak et al., 2000; Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1998; Gray et al., 1996; Rice et al., 2000). At other kinds of institutions, such as community colleges and some liberal arts institutions and comprehensive universities, teaching is considered paramount, and the evaluation of teaching and learning has received greater attention. Even in some of these schools, however, the increased availability of public and private funds for research has shifted this priority such that some faculty may question whether effective teaching is valued as highly in their institutions as it has been in the past. This gap can be attributed both to the ways in which research is sponsored and to the importance ascribed to scholarship that emphasizes discovery of new knowledge, application of that knowledge through technology transfer, or impact on regional economic growth. There also is a perceived difference in objectivity and credibility between the evaluation of research productivity and that of teaching effectiveness. In the world of research, peers who work in closely related areas are the rigorous evaluators of the quality of a research scholar’s work. Serving as anonymous reviewers for granting agencies and professional journals, these referees are the main source of formal critical feedback to researchers. Less formally, researchers are assessed, and assess themselves, when they take advantage of their many opportunities to share ideas and learn from colleagues in their own or other institutions. Home institutions bask in the reflected glory of their most distinguished research faculty. In turn, institutions often provide them with perquisites such as endowed positions; additional research support; laboratory space; higher salaries; and few or no other responsibilities, including teaching and advising of undergraduate students. On the other hand, researchers who fail to produce or who become unproductive may lose institutional support, are given diminished space in which to work, are assigned fewer student assistants, or are denied tenure or promotion. In contrast to the well-established norms for scientific research, many colleges and universities rely heavily on faculty initiative to nurture and sustain improvement of teaching and learning. Although criteria for assessing performance in the research arena are well established relative to those for assessing performance in teaching, the committee agrees with Boyer’s (1990) contention that teaching in higher
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education has many parallels with the research enterprise. The products of sound teaching are effective student learning1 and academic achievement. The major challenge for colleges and universities is to establish as an institutional priority and policy the need for both individual and collective (i.e., departmental) responsibility and accountability for improving student learning. As this report demonstrates, criteria and methodologies for assessing teaching effectiveness and productivity in ways that are comparable with the measurement of productivity in scholarship are becoming increasingly available (e.g., Gray et al., 1996; Licata and Morreale, 1997, 2002; National Institute of Science Education, 2001b). Many of these criteria and methods are examined in Part II of this report. While we now know a great deal more about practices that can contribute to effective teaching and learning (see, e.g., Annex Box 1-1, Chapter 1), criteria and methods for assessing undergraduate teaching performance in accordance with that emerging knowledge have not yet seen widespread use. Instead, the measure of a teacher’s effort often is reduced to the numbers of courses or laboratory sections he or she teaches, the numbers of students taught, or grade distributions. These are not measures of outcomes and results. End-of-course student evaluations are common, but even they usually lead to a numeric ranking, which often confuses evaluation of the teacher and the course. Because many factors, such as the size of the course, its grade distributions, or whether it is being taken as an elective or distribution requirement can influence responses on such evaluations (see Chapter 4), rankings are rarely directly comparable among courses or instructors. The committee maintains that the goals and perception of excellence in research and teaching at the undergraduate level can and must become more closely aligned. Five key areas in which steps can be taken to this end are (1) balancing the preparation provided for careers in research and teaching; (2) increasing support for effective teaching on the part of professional organizations; (3) developing and implementing improved means for evaluating undergraduate teaching and learning; (4) 1 There are numerous definitions of what constitutes effective student learning. For purposes of this report, the committee has adopted the definition from the NRC report How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (National Research Council [NRC], 2000c, p. 16): “To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (c) organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application.”
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according greater stature to the intellectual challenge of the scholarship of learning and teaching for those faculty in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) who wish to pursue such objectives; and (5) recognizing and rewarding those faculty who pursue such scholarship. BALANCING PREPARATION FOR CAREERS IN RESEARCH AND TEACHING Faculty advisors mentor most graduate students in science and technology in U.S. universities in their selection of coursework, choice of research topics, and research progress. During this period, students are encouraged to participate in professional meetings and conferences where they can present their findings, receive suggestions on their work, and learn about new developments in their field. The expectation that as researchers, they will interact with and learn from colleagues around the country and the world is ingrained from the start. Also conveyed to students during the graduate school and postdoctoral years is the expectation that other members of the research community will contribute time and intellectual effort to assist them in their research efforts by, for example, reviewing manuscripts and grant applications [T]here are many kinds of good teaching, in many kinds of teaching situations, at many different levels. Attempts to reduce it to a formula are doomed to failure. There will always be teachers who will break all our rules and yet be profoundly successful. In other words, it is the good teacher, not teaching in the abstract, that counts. Goheen (1969, p. 80) or serving on the dissertation committees of colleagues’ advisees. In the postgraduate years, when young researchers assume faculty positions, they are expected to establish an independent line of inquiry quickly and to make significant progress, generally within 6 years. The pressure to produce creditable results at many universities and a growing number of smaller colleges is extreme (e.g., Rice et al., 2000), but young researchers in the natural sciences and engineering generally can count on a considerable support structure provided by their home institutions, departments, and more senior colleagues. Such support can include generous start-up funds, reduced expectations for teaching and committee work during the pretenure years, and nominations for awards and for invitations to professional meetings.
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In contrast to the more formalized preparation for research, many new faculty who are expected to teach undergraduates in the sciences and engineering have little training in or exposure to the craft of teaching and virtually no experience with the emerging culture of teaching and learning communities. Depending on the needs of their graduate institution and its sources of funding, new faculty members may have taught an undergraduate laboratory, recitation, or course when they were graduate students. They also may have assisted a course instructor by grading examinations, laboratory reports, and other papers. While many faculty mentors do offer graduate teaching assistants helpful formative feedback on their teaching (especially in their roles as laboratory instructors), the broader paradigms of teaching and learning, such as appropriate content, effective pedagogy, and the ways students learn (e.g., NRC, 1997a, 1999b) often are not discussed in depth (Gaff et al., 2000; Golde and Dore, 2001; Reis, 1997). In addition, the pressures to pursue research actively make it difficult for many graduate teaching assistants to become acquainted with the extensive body of educational research that could guide them as they assume independent faculty positions (e.g., NRC 2000b, 2001, 2002a). Moreover, because the focus of graduate education is productivity in independent research, graduate students may view negatively the time they spend teaching, or at least assume that their faculty advisors regard this time as reducing research productivity. The comments from one graduate student cited by Nyguist et al. (1991, p. 2) are telling: I think any research advisor in their right mind would kill me for [seeking additional teaching assistant opportunities]. It’s certainly not something I would do. It’d be ludicrously unfair to a professor— to the professor that you are working for—to seek out another teaching assistantship. You are literally robbing them of thousands of dollars of effective research. It would almost be stealing from your employer to do that. The professor depends on the graduate students because the graduate students do all of the work in the lab. Not a whole lot of people tend to volunteer [their graduate assistants as teaching assistants] because it would mean sacrificing their own careers. Thus, implicit messages about the importance of preparing to become an effective teacher are often conveyed to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows even before they vie for positions in academe. These messages continue beyond graduate school. Job announcements may precisely specify research qualifications and areas of
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expertise while referring only obliquely to qualifications for teaching. During interviews, candidates for positions usually are required to present in colloquia or other venues details on their current interests, achievements, and future plans for research, but may not be asked to demonstrate either teaching prowess or knowledge of critical teaching and learning issues in STEM education. Orientation for new faculty, if it exists at all, is often completed within a few days prior to the beginning of the academic year. During orientation or earlier, new faculty may learn of the existence of a teaching and learning center on campus, which can provide access to resources that would be useful for development and refinement of their teaching skills. Even when such centers exist,2 however, faculty may or may not be encouraged to use their services. Indeed, many faculty in the STEM disciplines who teach undergraduates are unfamiliar with the burgeoning research on education and human learning. This lack of knowledge and awareness leaves them ill equipped to mentor the next generation of faculty in new pedagogies or in the use of techniques for effectively assessing student learning. For many faculty, their most successful instructional methods are usually self-taught—a reflection at least in part of the ways they themselves were taught—and consistent with personal styles and areas of expertise. Such methods are not necessarily transferable to student assistants or less-senior colleagues. Moreover, teaching as modeled by faculty advisors has been based primarily on the lecture, to the point that the unstated assumption of graduate or postdoctoral students could very well be that this is the only “real” form of teaching. While lectures may be an effective method when used by certain faculty in certain settings, a mix of pedagogies is likely to be more successful, particularly for the broader spectrum of students that now characterizes the nation’s undergraduate population (Cooper and Robinson, 1998; McKeachie, 1999; McNeal and D’Avanzo, 1997; Shipman, 2001; Springer et al., 1998; Wyckoff, 2001). Senior colleagues could serve as sources of teaching support, advice, and feedback for new faculty, but those new faculty may be reluctant to initiate such a relationship for several reasons. One is the tradition of academic freedom, in which classrooms are viewed as private domains where faculty members have 2 Teaching and learning centers on many campuses are providing leadership in addressing these issues. A list of these centers around the world can be found at <http://www.ku.edu/~cte/resources/websites.html>.
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the freedom to conduct their courses as they deem appropriate. Less-experienced faculty also may be reluctant to share their ideas and concerns about teaching and learning because they fear exposing their pedagogical naiveté or missteps to those who may later evaluate their suitability for tenure and promotion. Such reluctance to seek feedback and advice may be especially pronounced should a new faculty member be experimenting with alternative approaches to teaching and learning that may appear suspect to faculty colleagues. In turn, senior faculty may be reluctant to sit in on the courses of less experienced colleagues because they lack the time to do so or believe their presence could interfere with those colleagues’ abilities to conduct the classes as they see fit. Research universities are recognizing this problem and increasingly are developing programs to help graduate and postdoctoral students in the art and craft of teaching. The availability of such programs in the natural sciences, however, currently lags behind that in other disciplines (Golde and Dore, 2001). INCREASING SUPPORT FOR EFFECTIVE TEACHING BY PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Dozens of professional societies and umbrella or multidisciplinary organizations are devoted to the support and improvement of research. Far fewer organizations exist whose primary focus is the improvement of teaching and learning in STEM, especially for undergraduate students. Most of these organizations have the potential to influence positively their members’ recognition that teaching can be a scholarly endeavor parallel to research in the discipline. In the past 10 years, however, disciplinary societies and organizations have shown increased interest in finding ways to assist their membership in improving undergraduate teaching and learning. For more than a decade, for example, the research-based American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics have worked closely with mathematics education organizations, such as the Mathematical Association of America, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the American Mathematics Association of Two Year Colleges. Together they have examined mathematics curricula and standards for learning for grades K–14. Likewise, the American Chemical Society offers
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extensive resources for undergraduate chemistry education and has produced a textbook and supporting materials for students not planning to major in chemistry.3 And the American Physical Society sponsors regular meetings of department chairs where issues surrounding undergraduate physics education are discussed.4 Other professional societies also are beginning to examine their role in supporting the improvement of undergraduate education. In 1996, for example, the American Geophysical Union produced the report Shaping the Future of Undergraduate Earth Science Education, which advocates an “earth systems” approach to teaching and learning (Ireton et al., 1996). In 1999, the American Institute for Biological Sciences sponsored a summit of presidents from its 63 member organizations to consider comprehensive approaches to improving undergraduate education in the life sciences.5 In November 1999, Sigma Xi convened a three-day conference on improving undergraduate education in the sciences and mathematics that preceded its annual meeting.6 In 2001, the American Institute of Physics published a compendium of papers from a symposium it had sponsored on the role of physics departments in preparing K–12 teachers (Buck et al., 2000).7 Foundations also have assigned greater importance to learning outcomes. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently released a new “Millennial Edition” classification system for American higher education institutions, which places greater emphasis on teaching and service after a decades-long focus on research productivity and the number of doctoral degrees awarded (Basinger, 2000; McCormick, 2001).8 The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in collaboration with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching,9 gives faculty from higher education institutions national recognition for excellence 3 Additional information about this program is available at <http://www.acs.org/portal/Chemistry?PID=acsdisplay.html&DOC=education/curriculum/context.html>. 4 See, for example, Undergraduate Education in Physics: Responding to Changing Expectations <http://www.aps.org/educ/conf97/01.Chairs.homepage.html>. 5 Additional information is available at <http://alidoro.catchword.com/vl=85083249/cl=13/nw=1/rpsv/catchword/aibs/00063568/v50n3/s13/p277l>. 6 Additional information about this convocation is available at <http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/1999Forum/forum99.htm>. 7 Additional information about this symposium is available at <http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/1999Forum/forum99.htm>. 8 This new classification system is available at <http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/Classification/index.htm>. 9 Additional information is available at <http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/>.
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in undergraduate teaching.10 The American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) sponsors an Assessment Forum, designed to promote “…effective approaches to assessment that involve faculty, benefit students, and improve the quality of teaching and learning. It helps campuses, programs, and individuals to plan, implement, and share the results of their assessment efforts by publishing, networking, and sponsoring an annual national conference” (e.g., Cambridge, 1997; Suskie, 2000).11 AAHE also has published a directory of some 300 assessment books and articles, journals, newsletters, audiocassettes, organizations, conferences, and electronic resources such as listservs and websites (Gardiner et al., 1997). Another important source of exemplary success stories is Project Kaleidoscope’s Programs That Work. Project Kaleidoscope has collected a large body of information from a wide variety of postsecondary institutions about innovative practices for the improvement of teaching, curriculum, and institutionalization of reform.12 Public and private funding organizations have begun to stress the role of assessment in improving undergraduate teaching and learning. For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently instituted an initiative for Assessment of Student Achievement in Undergraduate Education. This program supports the development and dissemination of assessment practices, materials, and metrics designed to improve the effectiveness of undergraduate courses, curricula, programs of study, and academic institutions in promoting student learning in STEM.13 The Pew Charitable Trust has supported several efforts to make public what undergraduates are learning at the nation’s colleges and universities.14 The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which has contributed more than $475 million toward improving undergraduate and K–12 education in the sciences since 1988, has begun to compile and will share on a website information about the various kinds of assessments being used by its grantees to demon- 10 Additional information about this prize is available at <http://www.case.org/awards>. 11 Additional information about this forum and its related activities is available at <http://www.aahe.org/assessment/>. 12 Additional information about the Project Kaleidoscope program, including specific case studies and publications that are available in print and on the organization’s website, are available at <http://www.pkal.org>. 13 Additional information about this NSF initiative is available at <http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/ehr/DUE/programs/asa/>. 14 Additional information is available at <http://www.pewtrusts.com/ideas/index.cfm?issue=22>.
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strate increases in student learning and greater teaching effectiveness.15 Some professional accrediting organizations and disciplinary societies also are becoming involved with efforts to improve undergraduate education within their disciplines. Beginning in 2001, engineering programs will be subject to new criteria for accreditation established by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).16 These outcome-based standards include a call for engineering programs to demonstrate that their graduates have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the profession. To help member institutions prepare to meet these new expectations, ABET began holding conferences on Outcomes Assessment for Program Improvement and now sponsors annual national conferences on this issue.17 Similarly, in 1991 the American Psychological Association (APA) drafted a set of voluntary, outcome-based standards for undergraduate eduation in this discipline that can be applied to all students who enroll in psychology courses.18 A task force established by APA’s Board of Scientific Affairs has developed a set of guidelines for “undergraduate psychology competencies” (APA, 2002). The committee applauds the efforts of professional and disciplinary organizations in helping members recognize their roles and responsibilities for improving undergraduate education and in offering sessions about how to do so. However, these groups could contribute significantly to efforts aimed at improving teaching and learning if they were also to convene serious discussions addressing the broader issues and conflicts that serve as barriers to those efforts, such as allocation of faculty time, expectations for professional advancement, and recognition and rewards. 15 Additional information about the organization’s increasing emphasis on examining and disseminating new ideas about assessment is available at <http://www.hhmi.org/grants/undergraduate/assessment/>. 16 Additional information is available at <http://www.abet.org/accreditation.html>. 17 Additional information about the ABET conferences is available at <http://www.abet.org/annual_meeting_cover.html>. for undergraduate education in this 18 APA’s Principles for Quality Undergraduate Psychology Programs is available at <http://www.apa.org/ed/stmary.html>.
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DEVELOPING AND IMPLEMENTING IMPROVED MEANS FOR EVALUATING EFFECTIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING Finally, if teaching and learning are to improve, a broader array of equitable and acceptable ways must be found to evaluate faculty teaching on the basis of evidence of student learning. The issues involved here go far beyond the individual faculty member; they also reach deeply into academic departments and institutions. Evidence for effective teaching will need to be coupled with greater recognition and rewards for teaching by peers, academic departments, and institutions of higher education (Bleak et al., 2000; Boyer, 1990; Glassick et al., 1997; Joint Policy Board on Mathematics, 1994). Part II of this report provides more specific guidance on criteria and methods for developing effective evaluations for both individual faculty members and academic departments.
Representative terms from entire chapter: