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This question is about my attempt to give the administrators at my institution some feedback on how to better help them assess faculty teaching effectiveness.

My institution is soliciting input from faculty on how to improve the way teaching effectiveness is evaluated and assessed at the administrative level (e.g., by department heads, deans, etc.). Currently, as is probably fairly common at many institutions in the US, the administrators at my institution rely mainly on student evaluations of teaching to gauge whether an instructor is effective in the classroom or not.

One of the main problems with having administrators relying solely on student evaluations of teaching to gauge teaching effectiveness is that the average student is not equipped with the necessary skills to adequately assess an instructor's teaching effectiveness. Further, as highlighted in this question, if an instructor wants to boost their student evaluation ratings, one possible way to do that is to lower the standards in the course. The problem with that is, for those instructors who actually care that their students come away from the course with some tangible benefit (e.g., better prepared to move on to the follow-on courses, better prepared to enter the workforce, etc.), lowering standards is obviously not the correct course of action.

What's more, in this question, research is cited which basically concludes that student evaluations of teaching are not accurate tools for assessing an instructor's teaching effectiveness.

While I am a bit skeptical that my institution is really sincere in their claim that they want to improve this situation for faculty, I would nevertheless like to give some good feedback on how the teaching evaluation process can be improved such that the administrators more accurately assess faculty teaching effectiveness.

Are there any practical alternatives to relying solely on student evaluations of teaching, which are better at giving administrators a more accurate measure of whether a teacher is effective in the classroom?


  • I am not asking for how to evaluate my own teaching in the classroom, or even how to improve my teaching.

  • I am looking for alternatives to student evaluation of teaching that will help the administrators at my institution more accurately gauge faculty teaching effectiveness.

Both personal accounts and research references of better teaching effectiveness assessment alternatives are welcome. If one provides an answer with several alternatives, a listing of the relative upsides and downsides of each would also be very helpful.

1 Answer 1

I am a recent part-time faculty at community college level. In our campus students as well as peers evaluate faculty teaching. We have only one student/peer evaluation per year. In my case, I got feedback from a professor who taught that course for more than 25 years. His recommendations were not that different from what student's suggested in their evaluation.

Another option would be to test students understanding by assessing Student Learning Objectives (SLOs). For example, I give my class a questionnaire assessing their knowledge in SLOs on the very first day of the class and plans to give the same SLO questionnaire at the end of the course.

Hope this helps!