Learning from Evaluation of Effective Teaching Event: Change Leaders Perspectives

Rachel Renbarger
Western Michigan University
Madhura Kulkarni
Northern Kentucky University
Madhura Kulkarni, Northern Kentucky University and Rachel Renbarger, Western Michigan University

published Sep 27, 2021 2:45pm

At the end of August, three ASCN working groups came together to put on an event called, "Evaluation of effective and inclusive teaching: How can teaching and learning center professionals be involved in change for social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion?" (We will refer to social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion as JEDI for ease throughout this post.) We recommend that people interested in the event watch the recording and access the resources on the event page, but the purpose of this blog post is to highlight what we learned from this event so that other change agents can implement the findings into their work immediately.

Big questions that we wanted to focus on included the who, what, and how of transforming teaching. To understand how change happens, and how we might help create teaching evaluation change on our campuses, we asked Dr. Susan Elrod to describe her work modeling institutional change.

Elrod started by describing the Keck/PKAL model for effective institutional change (Elrod and Kezar, 2016). This model envisions the institutional change process as a river, with complex, non-linear flow and iterative processes represented as eddies. Agents of change may travel along the river for a time, remain in a certain stage for a while, and even enter or exit at different stages, with new travelers joining in at different points along the river of change. But who are these travelers? What do they do and how do they do it?

We are in a community of leaders, each enacting change with the various tools in their toolbox, but the specific actions that different leaders take to enact change and the ways that these actions interact for sustained, systemic change are often obscure. Elrod's new research (in collaboration with Cynthia Baurle and Adrianna Kezar) elucidates this "black box of leadership" by articulating various "leadership moves" undertaken by people in different positions as they pull on levers of change. These leadership moves can be mapped by person or position and over time through a change process to identify patterns, interactions, and significance.

If we want to effect change in evaluation of teaching practices to support equity and evidence-based practices, how might leaders in different positions come together with their unique sets of relevant leadership moves? Where does each person in the teaching evaluation system have the most leverage and what are the most impactful ways to use it? Elrod visualized leadership as a "ship of leaders" on which different leaders (the who) must pull levers at their disposal (the what), using specific leadership moves (the how). If everyone does the same thing, the "ship of leaders" is likely to sink. But if all of the leaders are aligned and working in concert, the ship will navigate the river of systemic institutional change successfully.

Elrod and colleagues have developed a taxonomy of leadership moves, including the following categories:

  • Create vision, expectations and pacing
  • Develop strategy and resources
  • Communicate effectively
  • Manage people and teams
  • Foster diversity
  • Overcome challenges and barriers 
  • Prepare for success over the long-term

So how might change leaders employ this taxonomy to promote inclusive and effective teaching practices through teaching evaluations? First, we recommend viewing the recorded webinar. Then, ask yourself these questions and try to map out a plan for change, continuing to adapt as you learn more about your setting and the current institutional landscape.

  1. Who might be leaders in your context in changing teaching evaluation (e.g. innovative faculty, teaching and learning center staff, provost)? 
  2. What levers of change does each leader have most influence over?
  3. Which of the change leader moves might be most useful for generating change in teaching evaluation, and for whom?
  4. How could your team best coordinate your individual leadership moves to greatest effect in terms of advancing teaching evaluation for more inclusive and effective pedagogy? 
  5. What can you learn about levers of change and leadership moves from other change initiatives (e.g. changing tenure and promotion criteria) in your context that could be applied to changing teaching evaluation?

For more information about these change leader moves, you can see the event handout (Acrobat (PDF) 82kB Jul19 21) and slides. You can also see the takeaways from the aligning incentives with change working group. Overall, we enjoyed this informal discussion with the large group of attendees and our ASCN working group colleagues. In the coming weeks there will be more thoughts from the working group on diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice so stay tuned to the ASCN blog for more insights.

Additionally, we hope you join us for our ASCN events called "Teaching Effectiveness and JEDI" on October 18th and "Teaching Evaluation and JEDI" on December 14th. Register here.

Comment? Start the discussion about Learning from Evaluation of Effective Teaching Event: Change Leaders Perspectives