Recognizing the centrality of teaching to student learning and success, and the limitations of our current systems for evaluating and rewarding teaching, Provost Furton asked Vice Provost Newman and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching lead by Senior Director Leanne Wells to co-lead the process of developing guidelines for evaluating and rewarding excellence in teaching.
Two Main Elements of the Evaluating Teaching Project
- Multiple sources of evidence: students, peer, and self
- Nascent vision of excellent teaching
Why multiple sources of evidence? As measurement and teaching evaluation expert Berk (2005) has written, “given the complexity of measuring the act of teaching, it is reasonable to expect that multiple sources can provide a more accurate, reliable, and comprehensive picture of teaching effectiveness than just one source” (p. 49). Berk adds that an additional benefit of multiple sources is that “the strengths of each source can compensate for weaknesses of the other sources, thereby converging on a decision about teaching effectiveness that is more accurate than one based on any single source” (Appling, Naumann, & Berk, 2001).
Why the vision of excellence? This, too, is a measurement-based determination. As Berk (2005) explains, the process of teaching evaluation “involves two dimensions: (a) gathering data and (b) using that data for judgment and decision making with respect to agreed-upon standards” (p. 49). Since FIU lacked “agreed-upon standards,” a “macro” vision of excellent teaching was developed. Departments examined this vision critically and tailored it to their context and discipline. FIU’s vision of excellent teaching is defined by three pillars of teaching excellence:
- Learning‐centeredness—a focus on optimizing student learning, growth, and development.
- Evidence‐based practice—instructional practices informed by existing educational research, and/or both quantitative and qualitative evidence collected while teaching,
- Cultural responsiveness—teaching that recognizes the significance and value of students’ cultural identities to their learning and strives for equitable outcomes.
CAT continues to provide leadership and ongoing support to department Chairs and faculty as they develop and engage in departmental evaluating teaching practices.