The most important evaluator of your teaching is you. In "Evaluating Your Own Teaching," L. Dee Fink (1995), Director of the University of Oklahoma's Instructional Development Program, argues, "The primary difference between those [teachers] who do and those who do not improve, is that only the former gather information about their teaching and make an effort to improve some aspect of their teaching--every time they teach." To improve your teaching, you can analyze videotapes of yourself, conduct research on your students' learning, or reflect upon your course materials and students' work. However, while self-assessment plays a primary role in formative evaluation, artifacts of your self-assessment (such as teaching portfolios) may also assist your colleagues as they make personnel decisions. So click the links on the right to discover how you can assess your own teaching.
Videotaping is a valuable tool for assessing your teaching. As Ellen Sarkisian, a veteran faculty developer, explains, "the idea behind videotaping a class is that there is not an outside expert who looks at your teaching with an evaluative checklist to say what's good and what's bad. You are your own observer. It's a chance for people to observe their own teaching to see if they're teaching the way they believe they are or the way they believe they should be. Then they can decide for themselves what they want to work on" (Myers, 1998). To schedule a videotaping session in your classroom, email firstname.lastname@example.org. CETLA will refer you to a student photographer who will videotape a one-hour lesson and play it back for you at CETLA. Click the links below for additional information about videotaping for self-assessment.
"Watching Yourself on Videotape": In her book Tools for Teaching, Barbara Gross Davis lists strategies and questions that you can use to evaluate videotapes of your teaching.
"Videotaping: A Tool for Teachers" : Although she addresses Teaching Fellows in this article, Jenny Myers from Harvard's Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning offers advice that pertains to faculty as well. Of particular interest is her description of "microteaching"--a group videotaping session in which faculty members take turns teaching for a few minutes while the others play the role of students and, afterward, provide feedback.
"Flanders Interaction Analysis": These video clips from Nova Southeastern University will show you how to use the Flanders Interaction Analysis System to analyze the interaction in your classroom. Using Flanders' categories, you or another observer can code all verbal communication to reveal how you and your students initiated or responded to an idea. As a result, you will notice the balance of "teacher talk" vs. "student talk" and silence as well as the quality of expression (e.g., whether you praise or criticize a student, accept a student's feelings or ideas, ask a question, give a direction, or just lecture). The analysis can reveal how student-centered or teacher-centered your classroom is.
While videotaping in your classroom can reveal much about your teaching, conducting research in your classroom can reveal much more about students' learning. You don't have to earn a degree in educational research to conduct such research--also known as "teacher research," "action research," or "SOTL" (the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning). As a classroom teacher, you can easily gather and analyze evidence of your students' learning: students' reports, tapes, photos, projects, portfolios, journal entries, survey responses, and interviews or your own field notes, checklists, logs, time-on-task analyses, and case studies. For instance, after introducing a new teaching method, you can compare the class average or the incidence of DWF's (D grades, Withdrawals, and Failures) with data from the previous semester. If you use a rubric to rate specific features of student work (e.g., a paper or presentation), you can also detect subtle changes in student proficiency that ordinary grades often mask. Moreover, if you administer comparable diagnostic and final exams, you can measure student progress during a course. However, there is no need to collect data only at the beginning and end of a term. In fact, as Patricia Cross and Thomas D'Angelo (1993) explain in their book Classroom Assessment Techniques, collecting and analyzing data throughout the term can help you improve student learning throughout the course. To learn more about classroom research, sign up for CETLA's CA01 Assessing Students' Learning or CA05 Designing a Classroom Research Study. Also, click the links below to familiarize yourself with some of the most common tools.
"Teacher Research": This site, developed by the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University, distinguishes "teacher research" from other types of educational research and guides you step-by-step through the research process.
"RubiStar": This free time-saving site provides templates as well as instructions for creating rubrics.
"Classroom Assessment Techniques" (CATs): Southern Ilinois University (Edwardsville) has designed this user-friendly site to make Patricia Cross and Thomas D'Angelo's "CATs" more accessible. To see the CATs organized by purpose (i.e., what you want to assess), see Creighton University's CAT table. To identify the CATs that match your course goals, go to the Field-Tested Learning Assessment Guide. It will automatically generate the appropriate CATs for your course.
"Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education": Derived from a meta-analysis of decades of educational research, Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson's principles have guided assessment on campuses across the country.
Don't assume that classroom research will take time away from your pursuit of tenure or promotion: Often, you can publish the results of your research in a scholarly journal (see "Places to Publish" on CETLA's SOTL site) or incorporate them in your tenure or promotion portfolio as explained below.
Another source of evidence of teaching and learning is the "teaching portfolio," a compilation of information about your teaching. Because assembling a portfolio compels you to select and organize evidence, portfolio development offers a golden opportunity for self-assessment. As you review your course materials, students' work, classroom research, and professional development activities, you can reflect on their significance in the context of your course goals, departmental mission, or professional standards. Whether your portfolio is designed for self-assessment or peer review, the following resources will help you select, organize, and reflect upon materials for your portfolio. You can assemble these materials in folders, a tabbed binder, or online. To learn how to build a portfolio online, sign up for CETLA's workshop CA06 Building a Digital Portfolio. Go to http://treddportfolio.pbworks.com to see an example.
"Preparing a Teaching Portfolio": If you're not sure what belongs in a teaching portfolio, consult this guidebook from The Center for Teaching Effectiveness at the University of Texas at Austin. The guidebook will help you balance contributions from yourself, your students, and others. However, when incorporating outside work, be mindful of copyright ( Fair Use and TEACH Act) and privacy (FERPA) laws.
"The Teaching Portfolio": This handbook was developed by Hannelore B. Rodriguez-Farrar at Brown University's Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning. It will guide you through the process of gathering, organizing, reflecting upon, and summarizing evidence of your teaching effectiveness.
"The Teaching Portfolio": Here is a concise and informative guide written by Matthew Kaplan, a consultant at the University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.
"The Teaching Portfolio at Washington State University": If you prefer a brief outline, see the outline posted by the Office of the Provost at Washington State University. The site also includes two sample portfolios.
"Options for Artifact Reflections": Assembling the artifacts of your teaching is only part of the process of compiling a portfolio. An effective portfolio incorporates your reflections on those artifacts. The Division of Education at Indiana University East has coined an acronym ("CLEAR ICE") and sentence-starters to help teachers reflect on the significance of each artifact (see p.6).
"Teacher Self-Assessment through Portfolios": This document from Viterbo University begins with questions about the goals of your portfolio (see p. 1) and ends with questions about the effectiveness your portfolio (see pp. 8-9).
Evaluating your portfolio is an excellent way to develop a statement of your teaching philosophy. However, whether you assemble a portfolio or not, take the time to reflect on what you believe about teaching, learning, and assessment and write down those thoughts. Also take an online learning style inventory to discover how you learn. Then compare what you've written to what you have actually done in the classroom. To see some of the questions you might ask and sample answers, click here. To read sample teaching philosophies, check the links below.
"Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement": This section of Ohio State University's site for faculty and TA development includes not only "how to's" but also sample philosophies from a range of disciplines.
"Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement": Here is a much-cited explanation written by Lee Haugen from the Center for Teaching Excellence at Iowa State University.
"How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy": Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Gabriella Montell dispenses useful advice for job-seekers; however, most of her tips are useful for faculty who are seeking merit, promotion, or tenure as well.
"Rubric for Statements of Teaching Philosophy": This rubric was developed by Matt Kaplan and his colleagues from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan. Kaplan et al. comment, "The design of the rubric was informed by our experience with hundreds of teaching philosophies as well as surveys of search committees on what they considered successful and unsuccessful components of job applicants' teaching philosophies."
Boyer, E.L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton,
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Myers, J, (1998). Videotaping: A tool for teachers. GSAS Bulletin, 27
Seldin, P. (2004). The teaching portfolio: A practical guide to improved performance and promotion/tenure decisions (3rd ed.). Bolton, MA: Anker. Excerpt.