The following provide clarifications and updates to the existing policies around teaching evaluation in the College of Arts and Science. It is the result of the Dean’s Taskforce report and builds on prior teaching evaluation policies and college standards for tenure. More on college policies and procedures for all personnel can be found on the personnel page.
A&S Policy on Teaching Quality and Associated Evaluation
The College of Arts and Sciences fosters state-of-the art educational practices, supporting faculty and academic units to ensure student success. The goals of this document are to articulate what quality teaching is; how to recognize and evaluate it; and to affirm the University of Colorado at Boulder’s mission of educating generations of learners and leaders. Towards these goals, the college expects high quality teaching practices and the development of scholarly methods to evaluate their effectiveness. It supports and allocates resources to achieve these ends. This document provides a flexible framework with adaptable approaches for academic units (i.e.,. departments and academic programs) to determine (1) appropriate levels of achievement for teaching faculty and (2) effective methods of evaluation. The college supports and encourages all academic units to practice and further develop these guidelines in a discipline-specific manner. This document is both a statement about the expectations for teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences and a resource to enact these practices.
Part 1: Dimensions for defining teaching quality
The College of Arts and Sciences at CU Boulder is committed to inclusive, goal-oriented, and scholarly teaching. These three dimensions of quality teaching must be considered when a unit evaluates the teaching performance of our educators.
Inclusive teaching at CU Boulder is designed with an eye toward the wide range of ways in which our students and educators teach and learn. In part, inclusivity means supporting diverse approaches to learning using a variety of teaching practices. Inclusivity also involves sensitivity to and support of diversity of students and faculty from across the range of social, economic, and demographic factors. Frequently, this sensitivity is geared toward initiatives in the classroom but also involves mentorship of students and support of their efforts to achieve their professional and personal goals.
For examples of inclusive teaching practices, see the resources page.
Hallmarks of quality teaching at CU Boulder include teaching that is: (1) guided by clearly articulated learning goals; (2) based on a curriculum designed to prepare, enact, and achieve those goals; and (3) evaluated and responsive to various forms of feedback, including evidence of impacts on learning. Additional elements of goal-oriented teaching may include engaging in efforts to make visible the achievement of specific learning outcomes, as well as to improve and adapt to the needs of diverse learners.
For examples of learning goals and associated practices, see the resources page.
Scholarship on teaching and learning and domain-specific studies of education provide clear pictures of effective, evidence-based and often innovative approaches for our CU Boulder educators to draw from and contribute to. These high impact practices may include (and are not limited to): engaging students in classroom settings; challenging them appropriately; providing structured research experiences; experiential learning opportunities; bringing appropriate faculty research or creative work into our classrooms; developing technology-based and innovative teaching methods; individualized mentoring; and nurturing a sense of identity, belonging, and reflection among our students. Scholarly approaches to teaching at CU-B encourage our own continued development as educators and may seek to make our practices and impacts visible through dissemination and peer review.
For more on scholarly teaching practices, see the resources page.
Part 2: Evaluating teaching quality
The evaluation of teaching that gauges the extent of inclusivity, goal-orientation, and scholarly teaching should attend to the following principles. They are designed to support faculty and their professional development as educators.
As described by Regential and CU Boulder campus policies, academic units are responsible for establishing and disseminating clear expectations for teaching. To these ends, the units should develop, publicize, and update processes and procedures for teaching assessment. Each unit’s policies and procedures need to specify standards and expectations for merit evaluations, reappointment, tenure, and promotion for all those teaching. These policies should clarify distinctions between levels of accomplishment (e.g. meritorious versus excellent teaching), and show how they draw from appropriate frameworks and measures consistent with discipline-specific culture, content, and practices. Finally, academic units should define and externalize the processes and timelines for evaluation of all faculty in their teaching roles, including during the hiring process.
Applying scholarly framework for evaluation
Academic units will specify expectations for teaching by drawing upon well-established scholarly frameworks. In addition to the structure provided in Part 1 (teaching quality), departments may consider adapting rubrics developed using the scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education (see the resources page). These scholarly frameworks define categories of practice for evaluation that are accessible and adaptable to all academic units and embrace a broad array of teaching activities including, but not limited to, classroom-based practices. Units should also specify which forms of data will be used as evidence for evaluating success for each category of teaching practice. These data should also inform the level of success achieved for the varied faculty roles and career stages.
Multiple measures using scholarly tools
Multiple measures of teaching effectiveness should draw evidence from at least three sources: students, peers, and self. Units should use student data in the form of questionnaires (e.g. FCQs or analogous instruments) in ways that best draw upon students’ unique perspectives (e.g. rating accessibility of material for them) and provide specific actionable feedback. Students can also provide rich and useful evidence of teaching effectiveness through classroom interviews and or student letters, with appropriate guidance and framing. Peer review is the hallmark of all forms of scholarship and ought to be applied to teaching evaluation, again using scholarly tools and approaches. Various research-based peer review observational protocols support these goals, and can be coupled with other effective practices such as portfolio reviews and faculty interviews. Finally, self-reflection allows instructors to contextualize peer observations and student data, and to share information about student outcomes and instructors' success in professional development or pedagogical innovations. A teaching portfolio is an effective manner to collect this perspective and among the best practices in evaluation.