Visualizing Instructional Practices (VIP) Logo

ASSETT’s VIP service is a data-driven classroom observation service available to all instructors (including graduate students who teach) within the College of Arts & Sciences. Grounded in research-based methods, the VIP service aims to provide faculty members with data that will allow them to reflect on their teaching by painting an objective picture of what’s happening in their classes. Instructors can choose from a variety of validated observation protocols that provide insights into student engagement, active and passive learning, and many other types of information about the classroom experience.

This service is particularly useful for faculty looking to:

  • Try out a new teaching method or design
  • Understand patterns of student engagement
  • Implement a new technology
  • Gain new perspectives on the activities and behaviors occurring in the classroom
  • Assess their personal teaching goals or answer specific questions about their teaching
  • Supplement their teaching portfolio

How do I participate?

 An introductory conversation to discuss the process and select a protocol; scheduling the observations; having your class observed; and receiving a report and final consultation to review the results.

Participation in the VIP service is strictly voluntary. We accept requests at any time throughout the year. To request an observation, chat about how to tailor the observation experience to best fit your needs, or learn more, reach out to Sarah Andrews, ASSETT's Teaching, Learning, and Technology Assessment Consultant.

The VIP service is designed to give you a supported experience with the goal of meeting your personal teaching goals. To this end, ASSETT staff will support you in making visualizations of what happens in your class and interpreting those visualizations with a focus on your questions and goals. Once the visualizations are made, you will control access to them and the raw data they are made from.

Assessing whether a class being taught in the “right” or “best” way is not a purpose of the VIP service. Such a judgment would be inappropriate as comparing classes is like comparing apples and oranges. There are no official standards at CU for what constitutes the right way to teach.

Most faculty will first engage in an introductory consultation with an ASSETT staff member, or attend a group informational session in their department. There, you will learn more about participating and discuss some sample visuals. Then, an ASSETT Student Technology Consultant (STC) will be matched with your class to take observational data. You can choose up to four dates in a semester for your STC to observe. The STC will then generate visuals of these data, including a timeline of each class they observed, and you can elect to have a follow-up consultation with ASSETT staff to discuss the visuals and any plans you have to tweak your class.

The descriptive data that you can receive through the VIP service includes instructor and student teaching and learning activities, patterns of questions and answers, technologies used, and levels of student engagement. Data is logged in two-minute intervals, allowing you to see patterns in these activities across time. ASSETT Student Technology Consultants are thoroughly trained to take research-quality observational data. They log data using a secure online platform. You will receive copies your raw data and visuals, and you will choose whether to archive or destroy the copy of your data stored with ASSETT. 

Review the data management policy agreement [PDF]

Learn more about the COPUS tool

Here is a sample timeline visualization of a 75-minute class using the COPUS and BERI observation protocols.  We provide a variety of visualizations and can customize them to meet your specific needs. See the sample report linked below for a full spectrum of visuals we can provide.

Sample of a graphic from a COPUS and BERI observation

Review a complete VIP sample report [PDF]

ASSETT is always looking for creative ways to extend our reach to more faculty. Having the ASSETT Student Technology Consultants conduct observations for the VIP service leverages their brains, skills, and availability to make it accessible to all.

ASSETT Student Technology Consultants work on a variety of complex assignments. For their work with the VIP service, they complete a five-hour training and apprenticeship program using teaching videos. They must achieve an interrater reliability score of .8 or higher before they conduct teaching observations.

A new technology that supports the online collection of observation data was the impetus for the VIP service. Through CU’s partnership with the Tools for Evidence Based Action initiative (TEA), we have been actively helping to develop this technology and developing our own observation protocols, which we have shared with partner institutions. This TEA introductory video describes the rationale behind the TEA initiative and some results from Boston University’s work in the area.

Some universities have started to offer VIP-like service that are supported with this technology, which is called GORP. Others are collecting voluntary data from many faculty across their campus, to gain a bird’s eye picture of teaching at their institution.

The initial work with TEA was accomplished through a partnership between the Center for Stem Learning and  OIT’s Academic Technology Design Team. In spring 2016, the ASSETT advisory board approved a proposal supporting the development of the VIP service.