were allowed to obtain informal student opinions about the course, and the extent to which they observed each major aspect of the course (e.g., lecture, laboratory).

Teacher assistants can be asked for the following kinds of information:

  • An overall judgment of the effectiveness of the faculty member’s teaching.

  • An analysis of the particular strengths and weaknesses of the teaching as reflected in the design, preparation, and conduct of the course. If the department wants specific comments on particular aspects of teaching, the instructions to the teaching assistants should emphasize the need for supporting evidence.

  • The extent to which working with the instructor contributed to the teaching assistant’s own professional development in teaching.

  • The appropriateness of the instructor’s assignments and expectations of the teaching assistants.

For each question posed, the teaching assistants should be encouraged to supply specific examples. If their responses are summarized for personnel decisions, the summary must indicate the number of teaching assistants who worked with the faculty member and the number from whom information was obtained.

Summative Evaluation by Faculty Colleagues

The following approaches might help some institutions obtain more systematic and complete information on teaching performance for purposes of summative evaluation. When these approaches could also be useful for formative evaluation, this is noted.

Ad Hoc Committees on Teaching Effectiveness

The department might appoint an ad hoc committee on teaching to evaluate each faculty member who is being considered for tenure or promotion. At smaller institutions, where final decisions for promotion and tenure may rest with an institution-wide committee rather than individual departmental committees, a similar panel separate from the committee on tenure and promotion could be established regularly to review the institution’s policies with regard to the process and use of summative evaluations for teaching.

The only responsibility of such ad hoc committees would be to evaluate teaching performance. The committee could consist of senior faculty members, one or two junior faculty members, and one or more graduate or senior-level undergraduate students. One or more of these ad hoc committee members should be from outside the candidate’s department.

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