Tips for Faculty Evaluators

The evaluation of teaching for promotion and/or tenure, contract renewal or merit raises involves multiple windows into a faculty member’s teaching including: peer review, student evaluation and self-assessment, narratives or inventories. The following is a guide to assist evaluators when conducting an evaluation of teaching.

Critique teaching methods and evidence of improved student learning.

Look for a discussion of the approaches the faculty member takes in their courses. Research indicates that courses which require students to take an active role in constructing knowledge are more effective in facilitating student learning than ones in which students passively listen to lectures. Does the faculty member provide evidence of efforts to assess and improve student learning in their classes?

Identify contributions to the curriculum and teaching culture.

Faculty members should show sensitivity to how their efforts further the curriculum and larger education goals of the department and university. They should also give a sense of how they contribute to your department’s unique teaching culture. 

Document evidence of professional teaching development.

Look for evidence of awareness of the larger picture of teaching and learning and the faculty member’s efforts to improve through professional teaching development. What workshops or education-related session at conferences have they attended? How have they worked to improve their teaching overtime? Are recommendations from peer review of teaching implemented in future courses?

Describe contributions to the university’s equity and inclusion goals.

The faculty member should document concrete efforts and practices designed to create an equitable and inclusive classroom. These might include things like getting to know student names and building classroom community; being transparent about the purpose of class activities, processes of expert thought, and criteria for evaluation of student work; explaining the purpose of critical feedback; presenting the contributions of identity-diverse experts to research fields and knowledge itself as contested and dynamic, etc.

Mindfully critique student evaluations with an eye for unconscious biases.

When you turn your attention to student evaluations of teaching, it is important to be aware that they may not be a reliable measure of teaching effectiveness. Also, studies show that students’ unconscious and implicit biases generally cause women and minorities to have lower evaluation scores than their white male counterparts. The level of the course and other factors may also affect the results. As an attempt to ensure that student evaluations of teaching do not receive undue and/or uncritical weight in the higher-level evaluations, you should provide context for student evaluation numbers that might raise flags.