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Monday, April 16, 2012

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Tomorrow's Professor: The Role of Student Evaluations in Tenure and Promotion: Is Effective Teaching Really Being Measured?



The Role of Student Evaluations in Tenure and Promotion: Is Effective Teaching Really Being Measured?

As a dean, the fall semester always left me a bit uneasy as I discussed the tenure and promotion process with my faculty members. As at most colleges and universities, our institution states that the criteria for tenure and/or promotion are based on teaching, research, and service. In my opinion, service to the college is demonstrated through various activities such as committee memberships, college lectures, and community involvement. Research is documented most easily through publications. However, teaching, and, in fact, effective teaching, remains unclear. After years of discussing the importance of student evaluations with faculty, and actually having one faculty member suggest that they should serve doughnuts on the day they survey the students to better their evaluations, a colleague and I began to explore what students and faculty really believe is demonstrated by the phrase effective teaching.

According to Laube, Massoni, Sprague, and Ferber (2007), administrators routinely rely on the quantitative rating of students when attempting to document effective teaching. These ratings, which are administered at the end of the semester, most often involve the faculty member leaving the classroom while students answer a variety of questions related to classroom management, class content, and the faculty member?s delivery of subject matter. Since the 1980s higher education has routinely incorporated these student evaluations into personnel decisions (Thorne, 1980). However, for more than three decades, many questions have been emerging about the validity of student ratings for the purpose of faculty evaluations (Sheehan, 1975), and to date few questions have been answered.

An article in this publication stated that faculty members, regardless of their institutional affiliation, expect evaluations of their teaching (Ewing & Crockford, 2008). A study on student assessments of teaching suggested that student evaluations of instructors were overemphasized in the tenure and promotion process (Wattiaux, Moore, Rastani, & Crump, 2010). If student evaluations are to be a key component in the documentation of effective teaching, then let us be certain that effective teaching is being measured. In addition, if student evaluations are not truly evaluations of teaching effectiveness, then let us not assert that we are measuring effective teaching through these procedures. As a dean or department chair, one is charged with guiding and protecting their faculty (McCabe & Bryant, 2009); to do so they must be provided accurate information.

My question to other deans and department chairs is simply this: If we are dependent on student evaluations of faculty for tenure and promotion, should we not first be assured that what we assume is being measured (effective teaching) is truly the measure we are obtaining? Our research attempted to address this question.

Methodology

The research design for this project was cross-sectional, with surveys administered to 265 faculty and students at a private liberal arts college. The survey was designed to capture demographic information on respondents (sex, rank of professor/ level of academic standing, and discipline/major) and provide the respondents the opportunity to define the phrase effective teacher. This opportunity for definition was afforded by providing a list of thirty options to the respondents and asking them to rank from 1 to 4 (with 1 being their best choice) their response to the question: How do you define an effective teacher? For clarity, options for the answers to the question included statements such as: motivates students to do well in the course, uses a variety of teaching methods, makes the grading requirements clear, and so on. The survey instrument was pretested on both faculty members and students outside the population of this study to help ensure the reliability and validity o
 f the instrument. Data were analyzed in terms of a frequency table to display general trends for reporting the findings.

Results

The population for this study was 32 faculty members and 233 students from a variety of disciplines (social sciences, humanities, math, physical sciences, health, business, and education). Approximately 40% of the students were male and approximately 60% were female. Approximately 50% of the faculty members were male and approximately 50% were female.

As displayed in Table 1, some of the more common definitions of an effective teacher by students were: a sense of humor (15%), someone who is able to relate to students? lives (13%), someone with patience and flexibility (21%), someone who is able to keep students? interest (44%), and someone who clearly indicates materials to be tested (16%). As displayed in Table 2, some of the more common definitions of an effective teacher by faculty members were: the love of the subject (50%), an instructor who outlines the course expectations (22%), someone who utilizes a variety of teaching methods (24%), someone who is organized (44%), and someone who encourages student questions (22%).

Table 1. Definition of an Effective Teacher by Faculty and Students

Faculty (n = 32) Students (n = 233)

Number Percent Number Percent
A sense of humor 1 3.1 34 14.6
Able to relate to students? lives 1 3.1 30 12.9
Patience and flexibility 2 6.2 49 21.0
Able to keep students? interest 2 6.2 103 44.2
Clearly indicates material to be tested 1 3.1 36 15.5


Table 2. Definition of an Effective Teacher by Faculty and Students

Faculty (n = 32) Students (n = 233)

Number Percent Number Percent

Uses a variety of teaching methods 13 40.6 56 24.0
A love of the subject 16 50.0 77 33.0
Outlines course expectations 7 21.9 23 10.3
Organized 14 43.7 30 12.9
Encourages student questions 7 21.9 15 6.4


Discussion

The results of this exploratory study provide some interesting insights into the differences in student versus faculty perceptions of an effective teacher. In general, students and faculty define effective teaching very differently. From a faculty perspective, an effective teacher should love the subject and be able to present it in multiple ways. From a student perspective, an effective teacher should be funny, interesting, and able to relate to students.

Here lies our dilemma. From an administrator?s position, if we are dependent on student evaluations to better our professors? efforts in the classroom and, ultimately, a professor?s tenure and promotion, then are we not concerned when many students perceive an effective teacher as someone who perhaps does not deliver correct information but who keeps them entertained?

If we are interested in effective teaching, then perhaps other methods for evaluating teaching (peer observations, evaluations from those in the field of education, or the model of ?teaching to the test?) should be incorporated into the mix. It is disconcerting to think that an effective teacher may be denied tenure because he or she did not induce laughter in the classroom. Again, if we are truly interested in rewarding effective teaching, then let us be assured that we understand the various definitions of effective teaching. If colleges and universities are committed to the idea of teaching and learning, then they must begin by defining this amorphous phrase of effective teaching. Research such as this study only begins to address this issue.

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Kimberly A. McCabe is dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Leslie S. Layne is assistant professor of English, both at Lynchburg College. Email: mccabe@lynchburg.edu, layne.l@lynchburg.edu

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References

Ewing, J. K., & Crockford, B. (2008, Winter). Changing the culture of expectations: Building a culture of evidence. The Department Chair, 18(3), 23?25.

Laube, H., Massoni, K., Sprague, J., & Ferber, A. L. (2007). The impact of gender on the evaluation of teaching: What we know and what we can do. National Women?s Studies Association Journal, 19(3), 87?104.

McCabe, K. A., & Bryant, S. M. (2009, Spring). Motivations of a dean: Change or profit? The Department Chair, 19(4), 17?20.

Sheehan, D. (1975). On the invalidity of student ratings for administrative personnel decisions. Journal of Higher Education, 46(6), 687?700.

Thorne, G. (1980). Student ratings of instructors: From scores to administrative decisions. Journal of Higher Education, 51(2), 207?214.

Wattiaux, M., Moore, J., Rastani, R., & Crump, P. (2010). Excellence in teaching for promotion and tenure in animal and dairy sciences at doctoral/research universities: A faculty perspective. Journal of Dairy Sciences, 93(7), 3365?3376.


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TCU eLearning: Google Education On Air FREE Conference


Google Education On Air FREE conference


Google Education is hosting a free conference on May 2, 2012 via Google+ Hangout on various topics Education related!


There are some great session topics on various tools.  A few that caught my attention are:

·         Managing Digital Portfolios

·         Using Google Docs to Organize the Classroom

·         Google Docs for Writing Instructors

·         Using Google Sketchup In the classroom

·         The Play, The Playwright, and Your Scene: Using Google Docs, Sites and YouTube

·         Google Sites for your Classroom (Basics)

·         The Paperless Classroom with Google Docs

·         Becoming a Google Search Ninja

·         Google Forms for Everything

·         I think, Therefore I blog

The price is right (FREE) and the topics sound pretty interesting. I hope to attend a few sessions, time permitting.  What about you?  Are you going to attend?  Which sessions interest you?

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TCU eLearning: Google Tools

Google Tools

http://tcuelearning.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/google-tools/ 

Here are a few neat things you can do using the Google toolbox.
1. Create timelines from a Google spreadsheet. We’ve mentioned other timeline tools before, but the easy editing associated with using a Goolge spreadsheet as the data container makes this option extra-nice.

2. 50 Little-Known Ways Google Docs can Help in Education. This list includes access features (like cloud storage and collaboration) in addition to functional features (graphs, drawing, videos, and templates). If you think you’d like to do more with Google Docs, but aren’t quite sure where to start, this list offers a nice overview.

3. Confirm quotations by searching Google Books. High on the list of scholarly annoyances is knowing – just knowing – that a quotation is somewhere in a given book (or stack of books), but not being able to find the right page. No more! Well, for the most part. An additional benefit is the ability to verify that source materials have been properly cited, if you are re-quoting something.

4. Google+. Google+ is certainly something to consider: it ranked as the highest new tool on the list of 100 Top Tools for Learning in 2011 (note that voting on this list is restricted to learning professionals, so results here might be more valid than an ordinary internet poll). Additionally, we want to hear how you’re using Google+. Have you used it in a class? To network or collaborate with other scholars? Used the video chat feature in Google+ Hangouts? Have you shared your screen or tried any of the apps that accompany the video hangout?

Last, if your students turn to Google as a default search engine, this is a nice article about cultivating savvy searching skills (based on a piece in The Atlantic). I love that “understanding sources” features prominently!

About kate marshall

I work for the Koehler Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas Christian University. I am interested in technology, teachers, learners, and pedagogy - and the relationship(s) among these four. I also like cooking, knitting, and running (alas, in that order!).

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eSN Special Report: Performance Assessment Making A Comeback In Schools

eSN Special Report: Performance Assessment Making A Comeback In Schools


Read Now
  • Learn how performance assessment is re-emerging as a better way to measure students' skills than a simple pencil-and-paper exam.
  • Discover a three-part framework for integrating performance assessment into your curriculum.
·         Learn the keys to success from other education leaders who are using performance assessment to better prepare students for college or a career.



Performance assessment is what teachers do every day when they grade students' projects and assignments, but often this work is not part of the high-stakes system that determines whether students are ready to graduate--or whether schools as a whole are making progress.
For a while in the 1990s, that was starting to change, as states like Connecticut, Nebraska, and Wyoming were developing large-scale performance assessment systems. But the dawning of No Child Left Behind "pushed aside" these efforts, because it was too costly for states to include performance assessment in their statewide accountability systems under the law, said Joan Herman, director of UCLA's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing.
Now, the tide is turning again.



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Phone: 301-913-0115 . Fax: 301-913-0119
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eSchool News Upcoming FREE Webinars! April/May 2012

Upcoming Webinars







Date: April 18, 2012
Time: 2:00pm ET / 11:00am PT
Date: May 02, 2012
Time: 4:00pm ET / 1:00pm PT
Date: May 03, 2012
Time: 3:00pm ET / 12:00pm PT

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Academic Impressions Webcast: Integrating Information Literacy in the First Year


July 23, 2012 :: 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. EDT

Help new students start strong by preparing them to better use library resources on your campus.
Many first-year programs incorporate information literacy peripherally; the highest impact, however, comes from making it an integral part of the first-year curriculum.
Program Overview | Pricing & Registration | Agenda
In this webcast, our expert instructor will showcase institutions who have developed successful information literacy programs while providing information and advice on the following:
  • How to utilize librarians in curriculum planning
  • Creating research-based learning outcomes that address information literacy
  • Ways to develop authentic and engaging research experiences and assignments for first-year students
  • Fostering collaboration between librarians and first-year seminar faculty
View the complete agenda.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
"The webinar stimulated discussion between attending librarians and faculty about information literacy and embedded librarianship. This is the first webinar I’ve participated in where attendees lingered to talk about the content of the webinar. … This was a very positive and unexpected outcome!"
- Bev Sedlacek, Library Director, Nebraska Methodist College

REGISTER OR PURCHASE A RECORDING
Register online or call 720.488.6800. Want to share this valuable information with your entire staff? A CD recording of the live webcast is also available for purchase.
Questions? Call us to help determine if this event is right for you.





REGISTER TODAY,
PAY NEXT FISCAL YEAR
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register now for this
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We will issue an invoice today and you can pay after July 1.

UPCOMING CONFERENCES
Using Student Data to Improve Your Academic Support Programs
May 21 - 23, 2012 | St. Louis, MO
Managing Copyright Use, Ownership, and Policy
July 18 - 20, 2012 | La Jolla, CA
View All Conferences




ACADEMIC IMPRESSIONS - 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 800, Denver, Colorado 80237

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Explore the Future of Digital and Mobile Technologies at CT Forum


Explore the future of Digital and Mobile Technologies at CT Forum

Dear Colleague:

I would like to invite you to attend Campus Technology Forum in Long Beach, CA, April 30 – May 2, 2012.

At this conference for higher education technology professionals, Kevin Forgard, Maureen Melva Sowa—both from Bristol Community College—and I will be presenting a session on “Developing and Implementing Digital Instructional Artifacts.” We will be talking about an initiative that began at BCC before 2008 and ultimately, with the help of a Title III-A Strengthening Institutions grant, saw the successful redesign of several general education courses at BCC based on a common set of learning outcomes. We supported and encouraged faculty by offering “Course Design Toolkits” that included many digital artifacts and tools relevant to course content. You can read a recent, related interview here.

I am pleased to be part of this event, especially considering the depth and quality of the conference sessions and the great opportunities for attendees to discuss important issues and opportunities we’re all encountering on our digitally connected campuses.

I’ve also included a direct link to the registration page for the Long Beach, CA, event.

Kevin, Maureen, and I are looking forward to a terrific conference. We hope to see you in Long Beach!

Regards,

Michael

Michael Vieira
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Bristol Community College



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Dillard University Student Government Association and Students Awarded at NBCA Legacy Lecture Series


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The Donald H. Wulff Diversity Travel Fellowships Program – to support their travel to the annual 2012 POD Conference in Seattle (October 24-28, 2012)


The Donald H. Wulff Diversity Travel Fellowships Program
To support their travel to the annual 2012 POD Conference in Seattle (October 24-28, 2012)

http://centerforfacultydevelopment.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/the-donald-h-wulff-diversity-travel-fellowships-program-to-support-their-travel-to-the-annual-2012-pod-conference-in-seattle-october-24-28-2012/
From Sandra Sgoutas-Emch, Ph.D., the POD Diversity Committee Grants Program Coordinator at Univerity of San Diego:

The Donald H. Wulff Diversity Travel Fellowships Program seeks to increase participation by people from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. and individuals from underrepresented institutions in the field of educational development (here used as an umbrella term to encompass what may also be called faculty development, TA development, instructional development, organizational development, etc.). Named to honor the memory of an early supporter of the Diversity Committee, Donald H. Wulff, the travel grant program awards up to $1,000 to individuals (and up to $2,000 for teams of two or more) to support their travel to the annual POD Conference. The 2012 POD Conference is in Seattle, Washington, on October 24-28, 2012.

The POD Diversity Committee gives preference to individuals who would join POD and contribute to its mission over the long term as well as those with particular interests in questions of diversity in educational development. Former grant recipients who have not received more than one award in the past may also apply for a second grant, with priority consideration being given to second-time applicants who have remained active members of POD’s Diversity Committee. Underrepresented institutions include, but are not limited to, the following: 1) Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 2) Native American Tribal Colleges, 3) Hispanic Serving Institutions or Hispanic Area Colleges and Institutions, and 4) Minority Serving Institutions (or those aspiring to become MSIs).
POD Diversity Committee 2012 Donald H. Wulff Travel Fellowship SEEKERS

To Apply for the 2012 Donald H. Wulff Diversity Travel Fellowships:
The deadline for applications is Friday, May 25th, 2012 by 5 p.m. EDT. Due to time constraints, no late proposals will be reviewed. Awardees will be contacted in July 2012.

Applications for the grants should be sent via email attachment to Sandra Sgoutas-Emch, Coordinator–POD Diversity Committee Grants Program, at emch@sandiego.edu.

Applications should address the following points of information:
* Have you received a POD DC Travel Grant in the past? If so, what year?
* Please address your eligibility for the travel fellowship: whether you are applying as an underrepresented individual or as someone from an underrepresented institution.
* Please describe your interest and/or experience in educational development and experience with diversity initiatives on your campus.
* How will you benefit from attending the POD conference and how do you hope to share these benefits with others at your institution?
* How might POD benefit from your membership and attendance and how do you hope to contribute to the organization in the future?
* Please explain your financial need and the type of institutional support you may already have to attend this conference. Please indicate if and when you have already received a travel grant award.

A Recommended Component: If you know a current member of POD who is willing to write a brief letter of support on your behalf, please include the letter with your application.

Please note that awardees will be required to do the following:
* to prepare a poster or flyer handout that summarizes the diversity-related educational development work done on his or her campus to be shared during the Diversity Committee-sponsored session for grant recipients at the conference

Issues applicants frequently ask about:
* One must become a member of POD to attend the conference and register for the conference. However, membership dues are covered by the grant (see below).
* While the grant does not cover the full cost of attending the conference, it does help defray a significant portion of the costs.
* Costs that are deducted from the travel grant prior to the conference include the following: membership dues, the conference registration fee (which includes some meals), and optional workshop fees. After these costs are deducted, the remainder of the $1000 grant is awarded in a check payable to the recipient’s institution. This check is given to the grant recipient at the conference and can be used to help defray costs for travel, lodging, and non-conference meals.
For more information, contact Sandra Sgoutas-Emch, Coordinator–POD Diversity Committee Grants Program, at emch@sandiego.edu, or Lindsay Bernhagen, Assistant Coordinator—POD Diversity Committee Travel Fellowships Program, at bernhagen.1@buckeyemail.osu.edu.

Visit the POD web site additional information about POD grants, the organizational mission, and conference schedules.
Additional information on the application process, proposal elements, timeline, review criteria, and FAQs can be found on the Diversity Committee site through the WikiPODia site for POD.
I am a music professor, faculty development champion, SoTL practitioner mentor and trainer, technology geek, fulbright alum, cultural ambassador, digital explorer, artist, and observer with a passion for Irish land- and seascapes, music and literature, Blasket Island people and culture, and the sea.

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