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Developing Metrics for Assessing Engineering Instruction: What Gets Measured is What Gets Improved
The committee reached the following stipulations and recommendations for action by institutional leaders and external stakeholders of the engineering educational system.
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.
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
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.