Improving Learning by Transforming the Evaluation of Teaching: Resources, Challenges, and Change Processes

Thursday 3:30pm - 5:00pm Waterfront
Thematic Symposium

Gabriela Weaver, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Andrea Greenhoot, University of Kansas Main Campus
Noah Finkelstein, University of Colorado at Boulder
Ann Austin, Michigan State University
Promoting widespread use of evidence-based educational practices (EBEPs) is an important and continuing challenge across higher education institutions. Achieving significant change in teaching and learning requires cultural transformation, and a key lever in such transformation is the development, adoption, and sustainable use of new approaches to supporting and evaluating teaching aligned with research on teaching and learning. The extensive reliance on student ratings as the primary strategy for evaluating teaching raises serious questions about the validity and reliability of these approaches, as well as concerns about how such approaches many have discriminatory implications. In contrast, building reliable approaches to teaching evaluation that recognize the multiple dimensions of teaching, involve multiple sources of evidence, and are aligned with what is known about teaching and learning can help the adoption and effective use of EBEPs. An increasing number of universities are interested in such new approaches to evaluating teaching that will encourage evidence-based teaching and contribute to departmental and institutional cultures that more fully value and reward teaching excellence and support effective learning.
In support of the growing interest in new approaches to teaching evaluation, this symposium accomplishes three goals: (1) discusses the key guiding elements and processes in a framework and rubric that approaches teaching evaluation with attention to the multiple dimensions of teaching, the use of multiple sources of data, and the relevance of both formative and evaluation outcomes; (2) provides case studies of three research-extensive institutions engaged in transformative change in teaching evaluation, using this framework; (3) highlights key aspects of systems approaches to institutional change to introduce and implement a more comprehensive approach to teaching evaluation; and (4) provides opportunity for audience questions and discussion about new approaches to teaching evaluation and strategies to bring these to fruition in wide-spread fashion.


The symposium will be organized in three sections. First, (30 minutes), drawing on data from an NSF-funded project, Transforming Teaching in Higher Education through Multi-dimensional Evaluation, a panel of four colleagues will address the following issues: (a) an overview of how fresh approaches to teaching evaluation advance new departmental cultures regarding teaching and increased attention to evidence-based practices; (b) introduction of a framework and rubric for evaluating teaching in new ways that recognize multiple dimensions of teaching, multiple sources of evidence, and contextual variations; (c) three brief case examples of diverse departments experimenting with such approaches to teaching evaluation and (d) data-based lessons about the organizational change process involved in implementing new approaches to teaching evaluation. Second, (20 minutes) participants will work in small groups to examine the rubric and discuss its relevance to change in their contexts. Third (20 minutes), each group will share three points they had discussed about adapting the rubric and evaluation framework to their contexts. Finally, (20 minutes), participants will have the opportunity to reflect on key ideas learned and then to engage in full group discussion of steps that can be taken in their home institutions to initiate and implement change in teaching evaluation.