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Assessing Teaching - Overview

Excellence in teaching has always been the highest priority for Calvin faculty.  Consequently, we recognize that our specific efforts to develop and assess teaching could always be improved. In particular, we presently rely too heavily on student evaluation as the measure of teaching effectiveness, especially in reappointment and promotion, and we need a more comprehensive set of tools to develop and assess teaching.

At the 2005 department chairs' retreat, a task force recommended an expanded process for assessing teaching; in the summer of 2006, Claudia Beversluis conducted a summer seminar on assessing teaching; and the Provost's Office is now poised to make, during the coming academic year, recommendations for changes. We know that chairs generally agree on the need for change; we now seek feedback on particulars.

Before the Professional Status Committee considers specific recommendations, it would be helpful to get feedback from colleagues across campus-feedback based on their thoughts about and experiences with various developmental and evaluative strategies for nurturing teaching excellence.

The ultimate goal is to create a culture in which we value and cultivate opportunities for all faculty members to improve their teaching-through ongoing conversation, observation, reflection, and planning. The development and assessment of teaching should also be ongoing, apart of the fabric of everyday life among the faculty; it should not be conducted only in context of the high-pressure times of reappointment and promotion.

So we provide in this packet a set of observations and suggestions, general and specific, and we ask for your feedback. You may offer this feedback by discussing options with colleagues. During the season of reappointments, you can imagine how processes might be aided by some of the suggestions in this document. Or, if it could help a colleague, you might put some suggestions into practice for reappointments you are working on this fall. Please do not, however, risk making any colleague feel as if the rules were being changed in mid process.

So you will decide exactly how to give us feedback; the key is for us all to be comfortable with recommended changes before they come to Faculty Senate.