Using a Faculty Evaluation Triad to Achieve Evidence-Based Teaching

By Appling, Susan E.; Naumann, Phyllis L. et al. | Nursing and Health Care Perspectives, September/October 2001 | Go to article overview

Using a Faculty Evaluation Triad to Achieve Evidence-Based Teaching


Appling, Susan E., Naumann, Phyllis L., Berk, Ronald A., Nursing and Health Care Perspectives


ABSTRACT An effective and comprehensive faculty evaluation system provides both formative and summative data for ongoing faculty development. It also provides data for annual faculty evaluation and tenure and promotion decision making.To achieve an effective system, a triad of faculty evaluation data sources student ratings, teaching portfolio, and peer evaluation - were developed. Concurrently, a system of faculty mentorship was implemented, as well as an administrative structure to effectively use data to assist in merit pay and promotion decisions. Using a comprehensive, evidenced-based system to document, analyze, and improve teaching effectiveness is essential to assuring excellence in teaching and learning.

THE CARNEGIE FOUNDATION for the Advancement of Teaching defined what it means to be a faculty scholar: "a recognition that knowledge is acquired through research, through synthesis, through practice, and through teaching" (1, p. 24). In national surveys by the Carnegie Foundation and the Higher Education Research Institute, 70 to 98 percent of faculty respondents regard effective teaching as a primary interest and an essential goal. Evaluation of teaching is one area that defines the "scholarship of teaching." * EvIDENCED-BASED TEACHING REQUIRES THE COMPREHENSIVE MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION OF FACULTY TEACHING ACTIVITIES, WITH TOOLS THAT CAPTURE MULTIPLE SOURCES OF EVIDENCE KEY TO THE ACCURATE AND COMPLETE MEASUREMENT OF TEACHING OUTCOMES. Student, portfolio, and peer evaluations form a triad and, in fact, a triangulation of sources. A faculty evaluation system that incorporates all three sources is more balanced and fair than a system based on only one or two (2). Each contributes unique information about teaching effectiveness and compensates for the inadequacies of the others.

Use of a comprehensive system gives greater emphasis to the importance of faculty development to strengthen teaching and, ultimately, to improve student learning. Linking evaluation to a broad faculty development and instructional improvement program will increase understanding and acceptance of its value (3).

This article reviews pertinent research related to three major sources of faculty evaluation evidence: student ratings, teaching portfolios, and peer evaluations, and the process employed to develop a comprehensive faculty evaluation system in a school of nursing. The system evolved from efforts to enhance teaching effectiveness. A mentoring committee to support faculty development had arranged for a series of workshops, attended by national experts in teaching and evaluation, to expose faculty to multiple teaching modalities. Following the workshops, the process of developing a comprehensive faculty evaluation and development system began.

Student-Generated Faculty Evaluation Student-generated faculty evaluation is the first part of the faculty evaluation triad developed to achieve evidenced-based teaching through formative and summative evaluation. Student evaluations are the most ubiquitous source of faculty evaluation data, used by nearly 90 percent of academic administrators to improve teaching and judge faculty performance (2). Studies generally support the reliability and validity of student ratings (4-12). However, faculty may feel that students are not able to make consistent judgments, or that ratings are a popularity contest or influenced by grades or gender. These assertions are refuted by a substantial body of research (7-18). Indeed, student evaluation data can be used for summative evaluation, to make administrative personnel decisions, and for formative evaluation, to improve teaching effectiveness (2).

Given the contentious nature of faculty evaluations in general, and student ratings in particular, a nationally recognized expert in faculty evaluation was invited to present a workshop on the topic. He reviewed the types of faculty evaluation, the underlying research, and a meta-analysis of student-generated faculty evaluation.

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