In formulating its recommendations, the committee was struck by the diversity of educational institutions in the United States, the types and numbers of students they serve, and the educational traditions they represent. Two-year community colleges, small liberal arts colleges, and public and private research universities offer different educational experiences and represent different scholarly environments. Average class size, age or preparation of students, the frequently conflicting demands of teaching and research, and the degree of collective (as opposed to individual) faculty commitment to teaching can vary greatly among institutions. A problem in one setting may not be an issue in another.
A major transformation is coming in the American professoriate, if for no other reason than we are on the verge of a generational changing of the guard. Our senior faculty, appointed in large numbers during higher education’s expansionist period circa 1957–1974, have begun to make choices about their retirement and later-life careers. And the next generation of faculty is already beginning to succeed them…. Leaders among the faculty and administration now in our colleges and universities have a time-limited window of opportunity to influence this transformation, and in so doing to contribute to setting future course of higher learning.
SOURCE: Rice et al. (2000, p. 1).
Box 8-1.Four Fundamental Premises
based on the premise that evidence of student learning should be an important criterion for evaluating teaching. In turn, evaluation of teaching that is predicated on learning outcomes has
To be useful, teaching evaluation has to become a feedback process. Given the aging of faculty and the public demand for better teaching, we need to consider ways of using comprehensive evaluation systems to provide faculty with feedback or information about their performance that includes recommendations for future improvement.
SOURCE: Ory (2000, p. 13).
implications for how teaching is honored and supported by educational institutions.
The kind of evaluation being recommended here requires the collection of different kinds of evidence that can be used to determine whether faculty and departments are indeed promoting student learning. Thus, if tenure review committees of senior faculty rely exclusively on outside letters evaluating research and teaching accomplishments, if they have had no personal involvement with methods of evaluating teaching or understanding how students learn, and if their teaching experience has been bounded only by the lecture hall, the messages they send about the importance of formative evaluation of teaching will be crystal clear and will not contribute to more effective teaching.
Another major difficulty in implementing more effective evaluation of teaching is that these activities take time from other commitments. Unless there are incentives to undertake evaluation of teaching in ways that truly enhance student learning, little change is likely to occur. As discussed in Chapter 4, Root (1987) has shown that, with appropriate training and motivation, improved evaluation can be accomplished with a manageable investment of time by the instructor’s colleagues.
In addition to the priorities they set through their leadership, deans and presidents have some budgetary authority that can be used to improve teaching and its evaluation. For example, the number of faculty teaching positions in a department is generally influenced by several factors: numbers of students taught, institutional budgetary constraints, and decisions to have faculty in particular areas of expertise. In research universities and growing numbers of other types of institutions, the last criterion can be the most important, driven by external forces at work in the discipline as perceived and advocated by the resident faculty. Sometimes departments are asked to develop plans for new appointments that are based on these disciplinary issues. Less often, departments are also challenged by administrations to prepare overarching instructional plans that embrace the needs of both majors and nonmajors.
Departments that take the time to examine their educational goals and the effectiveness of their curricula should be more deserving of institutional support than those that maintain the status quo. But there is a broader purpose to this exercise than departmental self-interest in slot allocation. Faculties that explore their goals for student learning and reach consensus on how best to accomplish those goals will have created the basis for a culture and community of teaching and learning that now characterizes the research domain.
Investments of time and funds undoubtedly will be required initially for such efforts. The costs of these investments will vary greatly, depending on the kinds and levels of commitment and resources a department or institution has already expended to improve its system of evaluating teaching effectiveness. For all of the reasons highlighted in this report, however, the committee is convinced that such investment is essential to improving teaching, learning, and curriculum, and will provide ample rewards through improved efficacy of teaching and student learning.
Faculty acceptance and ownership of any process for evaluating teaching
effectiveness is central to the success of that process on any campus. This report focuses on helping faculty understand the roles that various kinds of teaching evaluation can play in making them more effective instructors. Chapters 5 and 6 provide specific advice and recommendations for improving teaching through appropriate evaluation procedures. Chapter 6 also provides specific cross-references to other parts of the report where faculty can find discussion of evidence that supports the efficacy of various approaches to collecting and analyzing data used for formative and summative evaluation of teaching. Therefore, this chapter does not contain a separate set of recommendations for faculty. Instead, the recommendations listed below are directed primarily to policy makers, administrators, and leaders of organizations associated with higher education. It is they who must become deeply involved with promoting and supporting the kinds of evaluations of teaching that can lead to improved student learning. They also must establish opportunities for faculty to engage in ongoing professional and leadership development directed at the improvement of teaching and learning as a scholarly endeavor, and reward them for doing so in ways that are commensurate with those associated with other forms of scholarship.
(1.1) Teaching effectiveness should be judged by the quality and extent of student learning. Many different teaching styles and methods are likely to be effective.
Although many factors are involved in judging effective teaching, evidence of student learning should be foremost among them. Reaching institution-wide consensus on this principle is a critical step that will require consideration of such questions as what different kinds of students (STEM majors, preprofessionals, and nonmajors) should be learning in each discipline and how that learning can best be fostered. Definitions of effective teaching in STEM courses in the institution should take into account what is known about student learning and academic achievement (e.g., Coppola and Jacobs, 2002; Huber and Morreale; 2002).
(1.2) Scholarly activities that focus on improving teaching and learning should be recognized and rewarded as a bona fide scholarly endeavor and accorded the types of institutional supports aimed at improving scholarship generally.
Scholarship that is devoted to improving teaching effectiveness and learning
should be accorded the same administrative and collegial support that is available for other research and service endeavors. Faculty who wish to pursue scholarly work by improving teaching or engaging in educational research should be expected to conform to standards of quality similar to those for other types of scholarship (see Box 5-1 in Chapter 5). They also should be rewarded in ways that are comparable to those associated with other forms of scholarship during personnel decisions on such matters as tenure, promotion, and merit increases in salary.
(1.3) Valid summative assessments of teaching should not rely only on student evaluations, but should include peer reviews and teaching portfolios used for promotion, tenure, and post-tenure review.1Such assessments should be designed to provide fair and objective information to aid faculty in the improvement of their teaching. Building consensus among faculty, providing necessary resources, and relying on the best available research on teaching, learning, and measurement are critical for this approach to evaluation.
As discussed in Chapters 4 and 5, teaching portfolios, including a careful self-evaluation by the person being evaluated, can be an important tool for documenting a faculty member’s accomplishments in facilitating student learning and academic achievement. Such portfolios can be used for performing summative evaluation, but equally important, for maintaining a record of personal accomplishments and teaching issues that can serve as the basis for ongoing professional development.
Regardless of whether formalized teaching portfolios are required for evaluation of teaching, faculty should collect a broad array of evidence of teaching effectiveness that can be used for both formative and summative evaluations. This evidence could include, but not be limited to, the following:
Covering content at a level appropriate to course goals (particularly for a course in a vertical sequence).
Other organizations, such as the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE), are currently engaged in efforts to explore issues associated with post-tenure review of faculty, including the effectiveness of their teaching. Therefore, the committee did not consider this issue in detail and offers no specific recommendations about policies for post-tenure review of faculty. Additional information about the program at AAHE and its recent publications on this issue (e.g., Licata and Morreale, 1997, 2002) is available at <http://www.aahe.org/Bulletin/aprilf1.htm>. Links to numerous other resources and policy statements on post-tenure review at individual colleges and universities are available at <http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=post-tenure+review>.
Promoting classroom continuity by minimizing absences and providing high-quality substitutes when an absence is necessary.
Providing time for consultation with students for informal and friendly advising.
Being open to critiques of one’s own teaching.
Actively fostering infrastructure improvements that enhance undergraduate learning.
Participating in departmental, college-level, or university-wide discussions of curriculum and improvement of teaching and learning.
Supervising undergraduate research and encouraging active participation of undergraduates as contributing coauthors of published works.
Being willing to promote participation of undergraduates in professional meetings.
Exposing undergraduates to professional settings (e.g., industry internships, government laboratories, or study abroad).
Being aware of and adopting innovative pedagogical approaches, including thoughtful teaching and assessment methods.
Participating in the design of valuable laboratory experiences.
Helping to develop innovative designs for upper division and honors courses and for lower division multidisciplinary offerings for nonmajors.
Participating in effective mentoring and evaluation of departmental and other colleagues.
Supporting other colleagues’ efforts to improve their teaching.
In addition, STEM departments could consider hiring faculty who have specific expertise in learning within their disciplines. These hires would know the salient resources and could share them with their departmental colleagues. Departmental cultures should encourage and provide venues for such sharing of expertise in learning, thereby fostering new teaching and learning communities (Coppola and Jacobs, 2002; Shapiro and Levine, 1999). Faculty also might be evaluated for the extent to which they help their department integrate curriculum and attend more closely to the academic needs of a broader array of students.
(1.4) Individual faculty—beginners as well as more experienced teachers—and their departments should be rewarded for consistent improvement of learning by both major and nonmajor students. All teaching-related activities—such as grading, reporting of grades, curriculum development, training of teaching assistants, and related
committee work—should be included in evaluation systems adopted for faculty rewards.
Departments should encourage their faculty to improve teaching and learning through active participation in ongoing professional development programs. Departmental faculty need to initiate and coordinate changes in departmental curricula. Chief academic and executive officers should extend significant honors to both faculty members and departments that demonstrate excellence in the practice and scholarship of teaching, as defined by members of the campus teaching and learning community and the criteria presented in this report (e.g., Svinicki and Menges, 1996).
(1.5) Faculty should accept the obligation to improve their teaching skills as part of their personal commitment to professional excellence. Departments and institutions of higher education should reinforce the importance of such professional development for faculty through the establishment and support of campus resources (e.g., centers for teaching and learning) and through personnel policies that recognize and reward such efforts. At the same time, institutions should recognize that disciplines approach teaching differently and that such differences should be reflected in evaluation procedures.
Activities that demonstrate a faculty member’s commitment to improving teaching skills might include participating in programs at the institution’s teaching and learning center. They might also include organizing or participating in departmental or all-campus presentations or seminars on teaching and learning, or engaging in formative evaluations of colleagues. These efforts both by individual faculty and academic departments to improve teaching and learning should be publicly rewarded. Moreover, dissemination of information on campus-wide successes in evaluating teaching and learning can inform evaluation practices in other disciplines.
When evaluating teaching, it is critical to recognize the different emphases and approaches among disciplines. For example, departments that stress laboratory-based teaching and learning as integral components of their curriculum will have different approaches to teaching than departments in which laboratory and field work are not typically part of the curriculum.
2.Recommendations for Presidents, Overseeing Boards, and Academic Officers
Scientists, mathematicians, and engineers who are accomplished in research often enjoy national and even international reputations, whereas those who excel in teaching are rarely known beyond the boundaries of their own campuses. If institutions are to make a concerted effort to enhance the importance of undergraduate teaching and student learning within and across these disciplines, they will need to find ways of recognizing and enhancing the status of faculty who make distinctive contributions to this critical endeavor. Faculty cannot be fully successful if they alone undertake the measures required to improve teaching and learning; faculty, as well as departments, need direct encouragement and support from the highest levels of leadership on campus.
(2.1) Quality teaching and effective learning should be highly ranked institutional priorities. All faculty and departmental evaluations and accreditation reviews should include rigorous assessment of teaching effectiveness. University leaders should clearly assert high expectations for quality teaching to newly hired and current faculty.
Candidates for faculty positions who are expected to teach undergraduates should demonstrate knowledge of and enthusiasm for teaching. Position announcements and the interview process should make explicit the institution’s emphasis on and expectation for high-quality teaching (e.g., by expecting candidates to teach a class or to discuss their approaches to teaching and improving student learning). In addition, all instructors, including senior faculty, should be given opportunities for ongoing professional development in teaching and recognized and rewarded for taking advantage of those opportunities. Support also should be provided for long-term, ongoing research projects that enable effective teaching and learning practices on campus to be analyzed and applied to additional courses and programs.
(2.2) Campus-wide or disciplinary-focused centers for teaching and learning should be tasked with providing faculty with opportunities for ongoing professional development that include understanding how people learn, how to improve current instruction though student feedback (formative evaluation), and how educational research can be translated into improved teaching practice. Such centers should
provide equipment and facilities required for innovative teaching.
Centers for excellence in teaching and learning should be provided with sufficient resources to enable them to work with a broad array of departments and individual faculty. The centers’ assistance might include giving faculty and administrators access to new information about advances in the cognitive sciences. Centers might direct faculty to ongoing research and innovative practices and offer specific guidance for improving teaching and student learning. They also might be charged specifically with helping faculty use formative evaluation to assess the effectiveness of teaching and learning.
(2.3) At least one senior university-level administrator should be assigned responsibility for encouraging departmental faculty to adopt effective means (as proven by research) to improve instruction.
This individual would oversee and coordinate efforts on campus to establish and sustain the kinds of teaching and learning communities described in this report and elsewhere (e.g., Shapiro and Levine, 1999; the Campus Program initiative established by the American Association for Higher Education [AAHE] and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching2). He or she would report directly to the provost or, where appropriate, to the president or chancellor.
(2.4) Faculty who have excelled in teaching should be publicly recognized and rewarded. Endowments should be established to recognize the serious contributions of faculty who have made a sustained contribution to quality teaching.
Such recognition might include permanent increases in salary, promotions, and monetary awards in amounts comparable to those given to faculty being recognized for other kinds of scholarly accomplishments. Monetary awards might allow recipients to purchase teaching equipment to support their teaching efforts or hire student workers or others to assist with the development of new laboratory or field exercises. Recipients might also use such awards to attend professional conferences or visit with colleagues on other campuses to share information and ideas for improving teaching and
Additional information is available at <http://www.aahe.org/teaching/Teaching_Initiative_Home.htm>.
learning. In addition, funds could be made available to establish on campus a series of convocations at which awardees would be invited to speak about their teaching and approaches to enhancing student learning. Excellence in education would be determined through a comprehensive evaluation of faculty members’ teaching based on the kinds of evidence described in Chapter 4 of this report.
(2.5) Faculty should be encouraged to develop curricula that transcend disciplinary boundaries, through a combination of incentives (including funding), expectations of accountability, and development of standards for disciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching.
(2.6) Willingness to emphasize student learning and to make allocations of departmental resources in support of teaching should be an essential requirement in appointing deans, department chairs, and similar administrative positions.
(2.7) Graduate school deans should require that departments that employ graduate students in fulfilling their teaching mission should show evidence that their faculties are effectively mentoring graduate teaching assistants and advising them about their duties to undergraduate students.3
3. Recommendations for Deans, Department Chairs, and Peer Evaluators
(3.1) Departments should periodically review a departmental mission statement that includes appropriate emphasis on teaching and student learning. These reviews should address not only the major curriculum, but also service offerings, such as courses designed for nonmajors and prospective teachers.
(3.2) Individual faculty members should be expected to contribute to
For additional information and strategies for implementing this recommendation, see National Research Council (NRC), 1999a, pp.53–59. Other major initiatives to expose graduate students to the challenges they will face as faculty members include Preparing Future Faculty, a joint effort by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Council of Graduate Schools, and the National Science Foundation. Additional information about Preparing Future Faculty is available at <http://www.preparing-faculty.org/>. Tomorrow’s Professor Listserv, a website maintained by the Stanford University Learning Laboratory, provides continuing updates and new insights to future and recently hired faculty members following the publication of Tomorrow’s Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering (Reis, 1997). The list serv/website is available at <http://sll.stanford.edu/projects/tomprof/newtomprof/index.shtml>.
a balanced program of undergraduate teaching. Participation of established faculty in lower division, introductory, and general education courses should be encouraged. Faculty who are most familiar with new developments in the discipline can provide leadership in departmental curricular review and revision. Not all faculty must contribute equally to instruction at every level, but it is a departmental responsibility to ensure that the instructional needs of all students are met by caring, responsible faculty.
(3.3) Departments should contribute to campus-wide awareness of the premium placed on improved teaching. They should build consensus among their own faculty on the suitability of the institution’s procedures for summative evaluation of teaching, recognizing that the way practitioners of a specific discipline approach learning will affect the ways that teaching should be evaluated.
(3.4) In addition to numerical data from end-of-course student evaluations and on participation in specific courses, effective peer reviews of teaching should provide a subjective assessment of a faculty member’s commitment to quality teaching. Generally, this should include evaluation of a faculty member’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject matter; familiarity with a range of appropriate pedagogical methods; skills in using appropriate tests and laboratory experiences; quality of advising and other professional interactions with students within and beyond the classroom; and active scholarly commitment to enhancing top-quality teaching and learning.
(3.5) Department heads, in submitting personnel recommendations, should provide separate ratings on teaching, research, and service, each with supporting evidence, as key components of their overall rating and recommendation.
(3.6) Normal departmental professional development activity should include informing faculty about research findings that can improve student learning.
(3.7) As appropriate for achieving departmental goals, departments should provide funds to faculty to enhance teaching skills and knowledge and encourage them to undertake or rely upon educational research that links teaching
strategies causally to student learning. Additional funds should be made available to departments that adopt this strategy.
Faculty should be able to apply for these funds to participate in education workshops, to present papers on their teaching at professional meetings, or to work with consultants or colleagues on improving teaching and student learning. When a university has provided such support, evaluations of teaching should include evidence that the knowledge and innovations gained from such activities have been incorporated in some way into the faculty member’s teaching. How well departments meet or exceed these goals might be gauged using the evidence and evaluation instruments described in Chapter 7 of this report. Members of departments should be free to use the additional funds as they deem appropriate. Departments awarded such merit funds should be publicly recognized.
(3.8) Departments should recognize that in the course of their careers, some faculty may shift the balance of their departmental obligations to place a greater emphasis on instruction or educational leadership. These shifts should be supported, consistent with a departmental mission, so long as active engagement with innovative teaching is being addressed.
Such work may be particularly important in teaching undergraduates. Thus, the institution should support faculty who wish to change the focus of their career (e.g., Huber, 2001). However, institutions should also expect these faculty to provide evidence of new or continued scholarly productivity and improvements in teaching (in accordance, for example, with the standards listed in Box 5-1 in Chapter 5). Such evidence should be evaluated using protocols similar to those for other types of scholarship.
4. Recommendations for Granting and Accrediting Agencies, Research Sponsors, and Professional Societies
(4.1) Funding agencies should support programs to enable an integrated network of national and campus-based centers for teaching and learning. An important goal of such a network is to conduct and disseminate research on approaches that enhance teaching and learning in STEM. The network can also provide information on the use of formative and summative assessment for improving teaching and learning. To the extent possible, these investments should not be
made at the expense of sponsored research.
These centers would focus on higher education issues in STEM, and especially on research on how college-level students learn these subjects most effectively. Teaching and learning centers also might be supported in their efforts to disseminate resources beyond their campuses, particularly through electronic means.4
(4.2) Funding agencies and research sponsors should undertake self-examination by convening expert panels to examine whether agency policies might inadvertently compromise a faculty member’s commitment to quality undergraduate teaching.
(4.3) Accreditation agencies and boards should revise policies to emphasize quality undergraduate learning as a primary criterion for program accreditation.
(4.4) Professional societies should offer opportunities to discuss undergraduate education issues during annual and regional meetings. These events might include sessions on teaching techniques and suggestions for overcoming disciplinary and institutional barriers to improved teaching.
(4.5) Professional societies should encourage publication of peer-reviewed articles in their general or specialized journals on evolving educational issues in STEM.
The National Science Foundation recently initiated a program that addresses this recommendation. Its Centers for Learning and Teaching program is designed to “…provide a rich environment that melds research, teacher professional development, and education practice.” Additional information about this initiative is available at <http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf00148>.