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Abstract Title: Assessing Teaching Effectiveness: We Need More Than Just Student Evaluations
Abstract: Effective teaching that leads to better student learning outcomes is a goal for physics instructors at all levels, as well as for training programs (e.g., workshops for new faculty or teaching assistants) and for administrators. When it comes to promotion and tenure, teaching effectiveness is usually reduced to one number, the instructor's score for "overall effectiveness" in their end-of-semester student evaluations. While it is important for instructors to receive feedback from their students, we must keep in mind that students are not experts; additionally, research has shown that student evaluations can come with a plethora of biases (gender, language, ethnicity, etc). In this session, we explore what it means for teaching to be effective, and discuss ways in which teaching effectiveness can be evaluated that do not exclusively rely on one single score given by students at the end of the semester.
Abstract Type: Talk Symposium
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster III

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Emily Alicea-Munoz
School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332
Phone: 814-769-3957
and Co-Presenter(s)
Presenters: Paul Bergeron (Michigan State University), Charles Henderson (Western Michigan University), Alanna Pawlak and Noah Finkelstein (Center for STEM Learning, University of Colorado Boulder)

Symposium Specific Information

Moderator: Emily Alicea-Munoz
Presentation 1 Title: Holistic Teaching Evaluations and Knowledge in Use
Presentation 1 Authors: Paul Bergeron
Presentation 1 Abstract: A growing body of work is cementing the need to move past problematic end-of-the-semester, student evaluations as the main method of evaluating teaching. Certainly, reducing the complex process of instruction and its results to even handful of numbers should be expected to be inaccurate. To address these concerns, work at Michigan State University is ongoing to create a more holistic evaluation of teaching grounded not just in student feedback but also reflection by the instructors themselves. Of particular importance is the focus not just on the content taught but on students putting that knowledge to use. From this perspective, we believe that the Scientific Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards offer a boon to both instruction and the evaluation thereof, the implementation of which have been studied at the college level by our research team.
Presentation 2 Title: Assessment of teaching effectiveness: Lack of alignment between instructors, institutions, and research recommendations
Presentation 2 Authors: Charles Henderson, Chandra Turpen, Melissa Dancy
Presentation 2 Abstract: Ideally, instructors and their institutions would have a shared set of metrics by which they determine teaching effectiveness. We asked 72 physics instructors to describe how they and their institutions assess teaching effectiveness. Results suggest that institutions typically base most or all of their assessment of teaching effectiveness on student evaluations of teaching. Instructors, on the other hand, base most or all of their assessment of teaching effectiveness on student exam performance and nonsystematic formative assessments. Few institutions and instructors use assessment practices suggested by the research literature. In general, instructors are much more positive about the methods they use to evaluate their teaching than the methods their institutions use to evaluate their teaching. Both instructors and institutions could benefit from broadening the assessment sources they use to evaluate teaching effectiveness through increased use of standardized measures based on student learning and greater reliance on systematic formative assessment.
Presentation 3 Title: The Teaching Quality Framework Initiative: Valuing and Improving Teaching and Teaching Evaluation
Presentation 3 Authors: Alanna Pawlak, Noah Finkelstein, Sarah Andrews, Dena Rezaei, Joel Corbo, Mark Gammon
Presentation 3 Abstract: Undergraduate teaching evaluation systems often poorly measure teaching effectiveness and lack processes for formative development of teaching quality. In response to these concerns, the Teaching Quality Framework Initiative (TQF), a Center for STEM Learning project at the University of Colorado Boulder, is creating a process for transformation of teaching evaluation toward a more scholarly and evidence-based approach. The TQF, as part of the Bay View Alliance and multi-institution TEval collaboration, focuses on teaching evaluation in order to improve instruction and enhance student outcomes, among other long-term institutional objectives. Departmental-level and stakeholder meetings are combined with outreach to administrative officials and cross-departmental sharing of resources to create campus-wide change. We present tools and processes associated with departmental-level and campus-level change, explore how departments move through this process, share example tools developed by teams, and engage in conversations around mechanisms to create sustainable campus-wide change and disseminate tools/processes beyond our campus.
Presentation 4 Title: Using formative assessment to improve the teaching effectiveness of teaching assistants
Presentation 4 Authors: Alexandru Maries
Presentation 4 Abstract: Teaching assistants (TAs) across the United States play an important role in the education of students, as they often teach laboratories, recitations, and discussion sections. Due to increased recognition of the importance of student-centered instruction and active learning, TAs are often required to implement instructional strategies they are unfamiliar with. Thus, professional development programs designed to help TAs implement student-centered instruction effectively are very important, and one central component of any successful program is integrating formative assessment throughout. In this talk, I will describe such a program with a focus on how formative assessment is used, not so much to evaluate the TAs, but to provide feedback and support to help them grow into effective educators.