Guidelines for In-Class Peer Evaluation of Teaching

 

Introduction

Excellent teaching is central to our mission as a university, and the development and evaluation of teaching is an important aspect of the achieving of excellence. The CSU-AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement acknowledges and institutionalizes this importance by noting that ďPeer review through observation of load credit activity should normally be a part of evaluations [for renewal, tenure, and promotion], especially in pre-tenure evaluationĒ (4.11.7), but says nothing about how this evaluation should be carried out. In the wake of the controversy surrounding promotion and tenure in the spring of 2006 and the university-wide conversations that resulted, the Faculty Senate has concluded that the creation and promulgation of a single procedure and set of instruments for in-class peer evaluation of teaching would promote the interests of fairness and consistency in the promotion and tenure process in the following ways: †(1) protecting faculty from arbitrary, insufficient, inconsistent, or inequitable evaluations of their teaching; (2) helping DECs by providing a systematic and consistent means of evaluating and reporting on faculty teaching; and (3) aiding the P&T Committee, Deans, and Provost by offering reports on faculty teaching that are thorough and specific while facilitating consistency of evaluation between individuals, disciplines and schools.

 

In the service of these goals, the process described below is designed to reflect and respect the priorities and concerns of individual teachers and the departments for which they teach, while providing for thorough and consistent evaluation. The Faculty Senate urges departments to adopt these guidelines and instruments, or to adapt them to suit their needs. And finally, while the following guidelines are designed for a process of formal evaluation, it should be noted that they could also be used, or adapted for use, in a more informal developmental or mentoring process (for more on which, see the Conclusion below).

 

1. Frequency of Evaluation

To ensure fairness and promote the improvement of teaching, evaluation of teaching must be an ongoing process rather than one initiated only before application for tenure and promotion. Consequently, in-class peer evaluation should take place, at a minimum, in a tenure-track faculty memberís second, fourth, and sixth years (or, if the faculty member applies for promotion or tenure before the sixth year, evaluation should take place in the year the application is made, prior to application). Tenured faculty should be evaluated, at a minimum, every three years, and always in a year in which they apply for promotion or undergo sexennial review. If a faculty member requests more frequent evaluation than provided for here, the department should comply with that request.

 

2. The Evaluators

To help avoid conflicts of interest, untenured faculty members should be evaluated by tenured associate or full professors; associate professors should be evaluated by full professors; and full professors should evaluate each other. To avoid undue burdens on DECs, evaluators need not be members of the DEC; but the DEC should be responsible for pairing evaluators with faculty to be evaluated, respecting whenever possible the wishes of both parties.

 

 

 

 

 

3. The Evaluation Process

To balance workload concerns with concerns for thoroughness, faculty members who are to be evaluated should be assigned a single evaluator (or more if the department wishes), who should conduct at least two visits, each to a different class. If the faculty member being evaluated requests, in addition to the foregoing, a return visit to one of the classes visited, that request should be honored. Evaluators should, generally, visit classes that represent the faculty memberís chief teaching responsibilities: courses in the faculty memberís field of specialization, core courses in the discipline, and/or General Education courses regularly taught by the faculty member. The evaluation process should consist of three parts:

 

A. Before the Observation. After pairings of evaluator and faculty member to be evaluated have been established, they should do the following:

         The evaluator and faculty member to be evaluated should agree on a date, or limited range of dates, for the class visits

         The faculty member to be evaluated should fill out a pre-observation form (attached) for each visit, and submit it to the evaluator at least 24 hours prior to the observation

         When submitting the pre-observation form, the faculty member to be evaluated should also supply the evaluator with any relevant materials for each visit, including syllabus, assignment sheets, handouts, and readings

         If either the faculty member to be evaluated or the evaluator wish it, they should arrange a meeting to discuss the pre-observation form, relevant materials, or other concerns

 

B. During the Observation. The evaluator should arrive on time and should stay for the entire class, or for a period of no less than one hour agreed upon with the faculty member being evaluated. The evaluator should observe and take notes in anticipation of filling out the observation form (attached).

 

C. After the Observation. In order to preserve a complete and accurate memory of the visit, as soon as possible after the observation the evaluator and faculty member being evaluated should do the following:

         The evaluator should complete the observation form and provide a copy to the faculty member being evaluated

         After doing so, the evaluator should arrange to meet with the faculty member to discuss the observation and the completed observation form, answer questions, and offer suggestions

         After the meeting, the evaluator should, if appropriate, fill in the section of the observation form for post-observation comments, reflecting the responses of the faculty member being evaluated and any information that might not have been known, or might not have been clear, during the observation

         Copies of the finalized observation form should then be given to the DEC and to the faculty member for inclusion in the relevant portfolio(s) (tenure, promotion, annual review, sexennial review). A copy of the pre-observation form and copies of any materials referenced on the observation form (assignments, handouts, etc.) should be attached to the copy of the form given to the DEC

         The faculty member may, if desired, attach a written response to the finalized observation form

 

Conclusion: Evaluation and Development

The process described above was designed to improve the thoroughness and consistency, and hence the utility, of the in-class peer evaluation of teaching at CCSU. In doing so, it may aid in, but certainly not replace, another equally vital process: the development of excellent teaching. While the feedback received through the evaluation process described above should prove useful to faculty members trying to enhance their teaching and to departments trying to help their teachers, the judgment required by the evaluative process may not in many cases be compatible with the mentoring, advising, experimentation, and recursivity associated with pedagogical faculty development. Consequently, the Faculty Senate would like to urge that, in addition to adopting the foregoing evaluation process, departments establish mentoring programs for their tenure-track faculty (as currently required by the Senateís Promotion and Tenure Policy for Tenure-track Teaching Faculty, adopted October 22, 2007), and develop a mechanism for developmental, rather than evaluative, peer in-class observations that could, as early as a faculty memberís first year, provide feedback for the improvement of teaching outside the necessarily judgmental framework of the evaluation process. That process might involve the use of the forgoing procedures and accompanying forms as a feedback mechanism without making them part of a formal evaluation; adapting those procedures and forms for developmental use; or devising another process in keeping with the departmentís culture of faculty development and mentoring. The Senate further recognizes that for this developmental process to be meaningful and successful, the devotion of appropriate resources by the university will be necessary. The Senate thus expects that the universityís administration will aid in this process of faculty development by providing appropriate resources to the Center for Teaching Excellence and Leadership Development and also for training faculty mentors and conducting workshops on in-class observation as a part of faculty development as well as evaluation.


In-Class Peer Teaching Evaluation

Pre-Observation Form

(to be filled out by faculty member being observed)

 

 

Instructorís Name_______________________† Observerís Name__________________________

 

Name and Number of Class Being Observed___________________________________________

 

Bldg. & Room Where Class Meets___________________________________________________

 

Class Schedule Info (e.g. MWF 11:00-11:50)______________† Date of Observation_______________

 

Number of Students Enrolled______†† Type(s) of Students (e.g. majors, gen ed, seniors) ____________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Topic of Class to be Observed_______________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Context of Class to be Observed in Course/Semester_____________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Goals of Class to be Observed_______________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Type of Instruction (e.g. lecture, discussion, group work)______________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Activities Planned (e.g in-class writing, use of instructional media, performance)______________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 


Other information instructor would like observer to know:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions/Issues instructor would like observer to focus on:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructorís Signature___________________________________† Date______________________

 

 

Observerís Signature____________________________________† Date_____________________


In-Class Peer Teaching Evaluation

Observation Form

(to be filled out by observer)

 

 

Instructorís Name_______________________† Observerís Name__________________________

 

Name and Number of Class Being Observed___________________________________________

 

Location of Observation_______________________ Date and Time of Observation____________

 

Number of Students Enrolled______________†† Number of Students in Attendance____________

 

Did the class begin on time? If not, how early/late? _____________________________________

 

Did the class end on time? If not, how early/late? _______________________________________

 

Did the instructor meet the goals of the class as described in the pre-observation form? How?

(please describe, with examples if applicable) __________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Did the instructor make clear the goals of the class? How well did the students seem to understand those goals? How was this understanding demonstrated? ________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

What instructional methods were used? (e.g. lecture, discussion, group work; duration/% of each)† _______

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Were those methods effective and appropriate to the topics and goals of the class? Why/how?____

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

What activities took place? (e.g. in-class writing, use of instructional media, performance) ______________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Were the activities effective and appropriate to the topic and goals of the class? Why/how? _____

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Did the class unfold in an organized fashion, as appropriate to the instructional methods and activities involved? How/why? ______________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Was the instructorís communication with the class (lecture, questions, guidance of discussion, instructions for activities) clear? Why/how? ___________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Was the instructorís demeanor appropriate and effective for the type of class and the instructional methods and activities used? Why/how? ______________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

How engaged were the students? How was their engagement demonstrated? Was their engagement appropriate to the classí instructional methods and activities? (e.g. participating in discussion, taking notes on lecture, taking part in group work) __________________________________≠≠≠≠___________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Feedback on questions/issues raised by the instructor in the pre-observation form:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suggestions for improvement:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other observations and comments (please note that observer may wish to append a narrative of the class that clarifies or elaborates on any of the above):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-observation comments, reflecting the responses of the faculty member being evaluated and any information that might not have been known, or might not have been clear, during the observation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructorís Signature___________________________________† Date______________________

 

 

Observerís Signature____________________________________† Date_____________________