Executive Summary

Faculty in all disciplines must continually prioritize their time to reflect the many demands of their faculty obligations, but they must also prioritize their efforts in ways that will improve the prospects of career advancement. The current perception, as expressed by many in attendance at the workshop conducted as part of this study, is that research contributions are the most important measure with respect to faculty promotion and tenure decisions and that teaching effectiveness is less valued regardless of the stated weighting of research, teaching and service. While this perception may be most applicable at research institutions, these same institutions also confer a preponderance of engineering degrees awarded annually. In addition, methods for assessing research accomplishments are well established—even though imperfect, whereas metrics for assessing teaching, learning, and instructional effectiveness are not as well defined or well established.


In 2007, with support from the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Engineering convened a committee of engineering educators, leaders in faculty professional development, and experts in teaching assessment to organize a fact-finding workshop and prepare a succinct consensus report that addresses the development and implementation of a system to measure the instructional effectiveness of engineering faculty members. The charge to the committee was to identify and assess options for evaluating scholarly teaching (referred to in this report as “teaching effectiveness”) which includes a variety of actions and knowledge related to faculty members’ content expertise, instructional design skills, delivery skills, understanding of outcomes assessment, and course management skills. The intent of this project was to provide a concise description of a process to develop and institute a valid and acceptable means of measuring teaching effectiveness in order to foster greater acceptance and rewards for faculty efforts to improve their performance of the teaching role that makes up a part of their faculty responsibility. Although the focus of this report is in the area of engineering, the concepts and approaches are applicable to all fields in higher education.


The study process included a fact-finding workshop that convened 25 experts in the areas of engineering education, institutional administration, and teaching and learning assessment at which three commissioned papers were presented relating to research in assessing instructional effectiveness, metrics that are currently available, and what constitutes effective teaching. Drawing on the commissioned papers, workshop discussions, and additional background research, the committee with support of NAE professional staff prepared a report that addressed the following topics:

  • Background, Framing and Concepts

  • Governing Principles of Good Metrics

  • The Committee’s Key Assumptions in Approaching the Task

  • Attributes That Should be Measured and Sources of Data

  • How to Measure and Compute Teaching Performance



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Executive Summary Faculty in all disciplines must continually prioritize their time to reflect the many demands of their faculty obligations, but they must also prioritize their efforts in ways that will improve the prospects of career advancement. The current perception, as expressed by many in attendance at the workshop conducted as part of this study, is that research contributions are the most important measure with respect to faculty promotion and tenure decisions and that teaching effectiveness is less valued regardless of the stated weighting of research, teaching and service. While this perception may be most applicable at research institutions, these same institutions also confer a preponderance of engineering degrees awarded annually. In addition, methods for assessing research accomplishments are well established—even though imperfect, whereas metrics for assessing teaching, learning, and instructional effectiveness are not as well defined or well established. In 2007, with support from the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Engineering convened a committee of engineering educators, leaders in faculty professional development, and experts in teaching assessment to organize a fact-finding workshop and prepare a succinct consensus report that addresses the development and implementation of a system to measure the instructional effectiveness of engineering faculty members. The charge to the committee was to identify and assess options for evaluating scholarly teaching (referred to in this report as “teaching effectiveness”) which includes a variety of actions and knowledge related to faculty members’ content expertise, instructional design skills, delivery skills, understanding of outcomes assessment, and course management skills. The intent of this project was to provide a concise description of a process to develop and institute a valid and acceptable means of measuring teaching effectiveness in order to foster greater acceptance and rewards for faculty efforts to improve their performance of the teaching role that makes up a part of their faculty responsibility. Although the focus of this report is in the area of engineering, the concepts and approaches are applicable to all fields in higher education. The study process included a fact-finding workshop that convened 25 experts in the areas of engineering education, institutional administration, and teaching and learning assessment at which three commissioned papers were presented relating to research in assessing instructional effectiveness, metrics that are currently available, and what constitutes effective teaching. Drawing on the commissioned papers, workshop discussions, and additional background research, the committee with support of NAE professional staff prepared a report that addressed the following topics: • Background, Framing and Concepts • Governing Principles of Good Metrics • The Committee’s Key Assumptions in Approaching the Task • Attributes That Should be Measured and Sources of Data • How to Measure and Compute Teaching Performance 1

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The committee reached the following stipulations and recommendations for action by institutional leaders and external stakeholders of the engineering educational system. Stipulations • Faculty enrichment programs on campus often have high enrollments and are sometimes oversubscribed (relative to the resources available to faculty development programs). However, the optional nature of such programs and limited resources leads to low and uneven overall participation. • The development of a thoughtfully designed and agreed-upon method of evaluating teaching effectiveness—based on research on effective teaching and learning—would provide administrators and faculty members the ability to use quantitative1 metrics in the promotion and tenure process. • Quantitative and broad metrics would provide faculty members with an incentive to invest time and effort to enhance their instructional skills. • All faculty and administrators should have significant input into the design of an evaluation/assessment system, as well as provide feedback based upon the results stemming from the evaluation system that is developed. • The assumptions, principles, and expected outcomes of assessing teaching effectiveness should be explicit (and repeated frequently) to those subject to the evaluations, as well as to those who will conduct the evaluations. • Information gathered for tenure and promotion evaluations will likely overlap with information gathered for professional development. However, these two functions should remain separate such that identifying weaknesses for professional development efforts (collecting formative assessment data) is not seen as having potentially negative impacts on tenure and promotion evaluation (summative assessment data). This is a necessary safeguard that maintains faculty members’ confidence that sincere effort to improve their teaching through honest evaluations of strengths and weaknesses will not result in downgraded tenure and promotion evaluations. Recommendations Institutions, engineering deans and department heads should: • Use multidimensional metrics that draw upon different constituencies to evaluate the content, organization, and delivery of course material and the assessment of student learning. • Take the lead in gaining widespread acceptance of metrics for evaluating teaching effectiveness in engineering. Their links to faculty and institutional administrators give 1 The use of the word quantitative with respect to the proposed approach implies that the broad set of metrics that can be adopted are then given a numeric value whether the data are derived from sources that are quantitative or qualitative in nature. For example, an assessment of delivery skills is clearly a qualitative assessment; however, rating delivery skills on a scale of 1 to 4 creates an assessment that can be used quantitatively as part of a larger evaluative system. 2

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them the authority to engage in meaningful dialogue in the college of engineering and throughout the larger institution. • Seek to develop the appropriate number of evaluators who have the knowledge, skills, and experience to provide rigorous, meaningful assessments of instructional effectiveness (in much the same way that those institutions seek to ensure the development of the skills and knowledge required for excellent disciplinary research). • Seek out and take advantage of external resources, such as associations, societies, and/or programs focused on teaching excellence (e.g., Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Higher Education Academy [U.K.], and Professional and Organizational Development Network), as well as on-campus teaching and learning resource centers and organizations focused on engineering education (e.g., the International Society for Engineering Education [IGIP]2 and the Foundation Engineering Education Coalition’s web site devoted to Active/Cooperative Learning: Best Practices in Engineering Education http://clte.asu.edu/active/main.htm). Leaders of the engineering profession (including the National Academy of Engineering, American Society for Engineering Education, ABET, Inc., American Association of Engineering Societies, the Engineering Deans’ Council, and the various engineering disciplinary societies) should: • Continue to promote programs and provide support for individuals and institutions pursuing efforts to accelerate the development and implementation of metrics for evaluating instructional effectiveness. • Seek to create and nurture models of metrics for evaluating instructional effectiveness. Each institution, of course, will have particular needs and demands; however, nationally known examples of well informed, well supported, and carefully developed instructional evaluation programs will benefit the entire field. 2 The group’s acronym, IGIP, is attributable to its name in German, “Internationale Gesellschaft für Ingenieurpädagogik.” 3