Perspectives on Evaluating Effective Teaching

In January of 2021, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) hosted the National Dialogue on Transforming STEM Teaching Evaluation in Higher Education. According to NASEM, the goals of the dialogue were to "contextualize the critical importance of effective and inclusive teaching today; understand the broad array of models and approaches to improve the evaluation of teaching; and examine strategies on how to address cross-cutting challenges to reform processes for evaluating teaching." Scholars from around the country shared research projects, engaged in the discussion forum, and listened to plenary speakers around these goals.

Many ASCN members participated in the event. Below you will find their "aha!" moments, perspectives, and key takeaways. Interested in sharing your own ideas? Submit your perspectives using this form.



A Framework for Assessing Teaching Effectiveness (FATE)


Posted: Jun 23 2021 by

Shaun Simonson, Boise State University

In higher education, teaching evaluation is often inadequate and inaccurate, neither improving teaching directly nor incentivizing teaching improvement. Complicating this is that effective teaching is difficult to assess and one or two subjective measures do not accurately consider all aspects of teaching and are often nebulous without established standards. COVID-19 may actually have helped by drawing more attention to this and reducing resistance to change as people became uncomfortable with student course evaluations not telling the complete teaching story that faculty and departments want told. More

Themes in the National Discussion on Reforming STEM Teaching Evaluation


Posted: May 5 2021 by

Ann Austin, Michigan State University

The January 2021 National Dialogue on Reforming Stem Teaching Evaluation in Higher Education, hosted by the National Academies of Sciences Roundtable on Systemic Reform in Undergraduate Stem Education, in collaboration with AAU, APLU, ACSCN, and the TEval Project, involved faculty and administrative leaders from a variety of institutional types in very engaged conversation about teaching evaluation and innovative institutional projects. The lively conversation was evidence of the growing interest nationally in identifying models for more wholistic, effective, and inclusive forms of teaching evaluation as well as resources for initiating campus-wide discussions about reform in teaching evaluation. More

National Dialogue Continues


Posted: Mar 30 2021 by

Christine Broussard, University of La Verne, ASCN Working Group 6 Co-Leader

Our nation has a need for college-educated members of society with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to successfully address the big challenges of our time: social justice, public health, and economic security. How can we guarantee that the college education students receive is inclusive and effective? For many years institutions have used student ratings from end of course surveys to evaluate educational effectiveness and to make retention and promotion decisions regarding faculty. But this approach has done little to encourage the adoption and use of evidence-based teaching practices that improve student performance and retention, particularly for PEERs (persons excluded based on ethnicity or race). In fact, given the inherent biases of those surveyed and the discomfort experienced by learners in challenging learning scenarios and effective pedagogies, the opposite may occur. Faculty are rewarded for 'likes' instead of for fostering concrete learning, for making students comfortable instead of challenging their intellectual comfort zones in appropriate ways, and get limited feedback, if any, on how equitable and inclusive their classroom environments are. A shift toward meaningful evaluation of inclusive and effective teaching requires systemic change at the institutional level. It is not enough to redesign student surveys to extract feedback on professional aspects of teaching (though that's a good starting point), we must also integrate thoughtful and informed peer evaluation, and provide infrastructure for professional development and self-reflection. More

Evaluating New Approaches to Teaching and Learning in Undergraduate STEM Education


Posted: Mar 30 2021 by

Kadian M. Callahan, Kennesaw State University, ASCN Working Group 6 Co-Leader

Over the last several years, there has been a push to rethink teaching and learning in undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Two meta-analyses of studies on undergraduate STEM education revealed that traditional, teacher-centered approaches are not as effective as active learning approaches for fostering success in STEM for students broadly, and especially for traditionally underserved groups of students (Freeman et al., 2014; Theobald et al., 2020).  Thus, there are ongoing efforts to shift toward using active learning and inclusive practices to ensure that all students are welcome and supported in STEM courses and programs.  

As we continue to work to enhance our instructional practices to meet the changing dynamics of STEM teaching and learning, we must also reconsider how we evaluate teaching excellence.  Specifically, how do we ensure that the work that faculty do to actively engage students in learning and to create inclusive learning environments is captured in evaluations of teaching?  More

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