Evaluating Teaching in Higher Education: A Vision for the Future

Evaluating Teaching in Higher Education: A Vision for the Future

Evaluating Teaching in Higher Education: A Vision for the Future

Evaluating Teaching in Higher Education: A Vision for the Future

Synopsis

This issue analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches to evaluating teaching and recommends practical strategies for both improving current evaluation methods and developing new ones. The contributors provide an overview of new techniques such as peer evaluations, portfolios, and student ratings of instructors and technologies that can help instructors become more effective and help institutions demonstrate that effectiveness. This is the 83rd issue of the quarterly journal New Directions for Teaching and Learning.

Excerpt

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My text for this meditative essay on the state of educational research is taken from the Gospel According to Ms. Mentor, as recorded by Emily Toth in the wonderful book entitled Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Aca- demia. In answer to a question about getting good student evaluations, Ms. Mentor makes the following observations:

Realists do, of course, know the single thing that does the most to improve a
teacher's evaluations: giving high grades. Occasionally a researcher in the
Chronicle of Higher Education will claim there is no correlation between stu
dents' grades and their evaluations of their teachers. Perhaps the researchers
are not deliberate liars, says Ms. Mentor, but they are surely wrong [Toth,
1997, p. 95].

Ms. Mentor here gives voice to some widely shared perceptions about student evaluations of teaching, despite their being one of the most researched areas in higher education. We will return to Ms. Mentor later and consider why she and so many others continue to think this way, but for now, our topic is much broader than student evaluations of teaching. It is the state of research on teaching in higher education as a whole.

Note: This chapter was edited posthumously by Marilla D. Svinicki, University of Texas
at Austin.

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