Faculty Peer Review : To improve faculty teaching through direct faculty interaction (e.g., attending workshops, visiting each other’s classes, creating teaching portfolios). This is particularly useful for younger faculty, who seem more preoccupied with research. It provides interaction with more experienced faculty mentors. Advocates a change in institutional structure that values and rewards teaching to greater degrees. Mathematics initiatives : Involve understanding at several levels… numerically, graphically, algebraically, and verbally. Emphasize verbal skills. Relate calculus to real world situations. Faculty shift to facilitators of group projects and active learning, then listen to students as they try to develop understanding, identify gaps in knowledge, and clarify what they have just learned. Learning Communities : Promote academic success by emphasizing student-student, faculty-student interaction, and interdisciplinary course linkages. Programs vary in format, but typically fall into one of five categories: linked courses, learning clusters, freshman interest groups, federated learning communities, and coordinated studies. Classes focus on improving the quality of learning and not just content or outcomes. Learning communities promote change in university cultures. Emphasize collaboration between academic affairs and student affairs, and among faculty in terms of sharing knowledge about teaching.
Rather than replacing assessment techniques, we found that faculty members typically create new tools and link to traditional assessment methods. Faculty consider skills that students will need in the future as they transfer knowledge from one class to another, or to external work environments. Mathematics and chemistry faculty are realizing the need to improve communication skills as part of an overall math or science “literacy.”
English faculty, Landgrant Flagship: “I know [faculty] have been collecting work from representative students from across their four years or five years or however long they’re here, but that still provides such a contextualized picture of what’s going on. Did you interview the faculty who taught those courses to figure out what their goals for those classes were to begin with? And did you talk – can the student talk articulately without the connections that they’ve seen between all these different pieces of material? I guess its so text based, it’s just like, well, show us that you pass this chemistry test or that you’ve written this research paper or whatever, that it doesn’t really attend to the process at all.” Exam scores are now used by math faculty in different ways. Some faculty create a spreadsheet using course goals and sections of the exam, to discover what skills they could teach better (and whether they are meeting their teaching goals). Some departments create similar spreadsheets to determine how well faculty are doing. Some may be using this information in more punitive ways.
“ My chair has told me again and again . . . ‘You’re doing a lot of wonderful things in the classroom, but nobody knows about it. You’re not sharing.’ And its not that I don’t want to, not at all, its just that mathematicians have kind of a loner streak in them, you know. Teamwork is something we have to acquire. So I am trying to share more, and I felt kind of driven to.” (Math - LF) “ So I’m a student along with my students . . . . Just this past [week] I put a flow chart up on the board, it was kind of biffed up in some respects and we kind of straightened it out. And after class, one of my students came up, and he said “You know, I really wouldn’t do it that way. This doubling factor that you’re using, explain to me why.” He had a different strategy in mind, and you know, he’s right. So, the next time I wrote it up, I mentioned it, that he suggested this. So I’m with the students, and we kind of move forward together.” (Math - LF) “ Teaching should be led by the faculty, rather than by administration . . . . I think that if you’re going to improve anything it has to come from both the administration and the faculty . . . . An administrator’s job is to really resolve conflict that’s created by people’s self preservation instinct.”(Math - U) “ What I told the math department was look, we’re going to do it education’s way for a year or two, as a pilot, as a study, and I don’t want your reasons why its not going to work. Let’s just monitor, let’s document it, and if you’re right and it doesn’t work, we will have the documentation. Let’s go through the motion.” (Math - U)
“ Chemistry for the Citizen” Courses: Use of Current Events in Writing Projects Surviving large lecture classes Short spurts of lecturing interspersed with exercises geared toward keeping students engaged Using space, technology and staff to create community: Landgrant Flagship’s Chemistry Resource Center Large, open, sunny workspace: round tables, surrounded by resources and faculty offices, departmental staff and lab supply room there as well. In a separate part of the room is a computer lab with group-work stations and “roll-away” computer stations (so they can be taken to lab). Very popular space -- “buzzing” Use of graphing calculators in class and in lab: Since the calculators can accept data (for instance, it can read temperatures from an attached thermometer; it can plug into an oscilloscope...) students can collect data directly themselves in class or lab demonstrations, and then carry it but to the computing center, plug their calculators back in and then manipulate the data that way: 1) Students get more direct involvement in the material/demonstrations. 2) There are fewer errors in reading and transferring data.
Endemic Resistance: Faculty Associate Assessment with Anti-Intellectualism A Sense of Learning’s Intangibility Resistance to Quantification. “ Assessment vs. Instruction” Conversions in Practice General Shift: Faculty are More Willing to Present Student-Learning Goals Overtly in Courses.
Resentment of other departments “ Sometimes I’ve been pretty upset about, actually about content. If I think I’ve got a certain bit of stuff I need to do, and I can’t do it because people aren’t prepared, then the question is what do I do? Do I try to cover the stuff that I believe should have been covered or do I simply go on with what I think is important and let the students fall where they may and I’m not inclined to do that. But I don’t know how easily I can insert myself into someone else’s course and say, come on, get with it.” (Chemistry, LF) Some faculty were alienated by the use of a formal term like “Assessment” to label some of the more organic ways they “clue in” to what their students are learning. We encountered a number of reactions from a simple resistance to labeling their practices to intimidation.
Ability to risk : This professor was concerned that he didn’t know if his students were learning anything. Rather than rest with that concern, he wrote it down in a teaching journal, shared this journal with colleagues, and ultimately, with students as well. This is a risk that a person earlier in the career might not take. This faculty member has also gone through a post-tenure review voluntarily , including sending his teaching portfolio out for external review in a way similar to the common review of research portfolios .
Explicit Goals for Student Learning Enhance Faculty Use of Innovative Teaching 1) Innovative faculty tend to use assessment 2) But even if some innovative teachers didn’t use assessment techniques from the beginning, many who happened to stumble on assessment techniques or even some who engaged in collecting assessment data out of obligation by their administration -- many of these faculty found practical use for the information and therefore liked and implemented the techniques. Makes Assessment of Student Learning More Practical/Attractive to Faculty. An Emphasis on Written Communication of Concepts Examples: term papers; presentations in Math & Chem. courses. student journals and “learning letters” in English Increases Student Exposure to Material Augments the Information Available for Assessment & the Improvement of Teaching. Other Tensions/Constraints: Content vs. Understanding Resistance to Overt Goals and Quantifiable Assessment . Faculty Empowerment to Assess Student Learning.
Assessment as information-gathering Assessment as impetus for innovation: uncovers a problem and points to possible remedies Innovation as impetus for assessment: Provides feedback Enhances faculty & student engagement Reinforces motivation for teaching improvement A link between teaching improvement and assessment improvement Traditional markers may overlook emerging dimensions of student learning GRE Example -- use of standardized tests
Landgrant Flagship Promotion/Tenure Example: – Changes instituted by new Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of College of Arts & Sciences – Recent (in the last two years) development of Percentage-type weighting in Tenure/Promotion Process: teaching, research, service. • Anecdotally, as much as 70% teaching allowed • Agreements reached between individual faculty members and their respective departments. – Release time for teaching. This system allows departments to recognize the contributions of faculty whose professional priorities favor teaching over research. The history of one professor at Landgrant Flagship, for example, illustrates the concrete and sudden effects of the new policies. I've been an associate professor since 1980… which is fine with me, you know. It's just not a goal of mine to be a full professor, and I've been told year after year by my Chairs, &quot;Well, you know, you do great work in teaching and service. We just wish you'd publish a couple more articles next year.&quot; And I would say, &quot;Yes. I know that's what you have to say to me, but that doesn't reflect my goals, so I'll just keep doing what I think is right, and you'll just keep telling me what you have to tell me and that's okay.&quot; But after being told that again just last year in May, in October I was actually asked to put myself forward for promotion with the understanding that the winds had shifted and that my teaching could be seen as my greatest strength. I have some publications; it's not that I have none. And most of them are on teaching, so I was actually asked and I understood that [that] came from the Vice Chancellor through the Dean level to the department, and that meant a lot to me, I must say, even though I'd reconciled myself to never being promoted. That meant a lot to me to have people say, &quot;No …we do not only recognize teaching, but we want to show that we recognize it.&quot; Several faculty who spoke with us cited this policy as an indication of a changing climate at Landgrant Flagship. To many on campus, the concrete results of the policy certify the University's commitment -- at departmental, college and central administrative levels -- to the scholarship of teaching.
New Techniques, New Assessment? Assessment Strategies and Innovative Teaching Practices The PowerPoint slides were developed by Mus Khairy (PhD), Stanford University at California. Educational ,Social Psychologists at German University at Cairo (GUC) unless otherwise noted on specific slides.
“ [Communication with students] is assessment in the broad sense. It’s not assessment in the sense of a course grade. . . . I’m not talking about enumerating things that go into the course grade. But – and I do some assessment, I mean just talking to the students, you get a sense of where they’re at, who’s more advanced, who’s not, but, so the one minute papers and the background knowledge probe are certainly broader assessment practices…”
“… But by and large, I mean, you know, the bulk of the grading, if you want to think of assessment as grading, the bulk of the grading is done still on our exams but I’ve broadened it out, and sort of tempered it somewhat with other things including the writing and the presentations and you know, homework and stuff like that…”
Landgrant Flagship, Math
Perceptions that assessment unfairly or prematurely judges
Does assessment = judging?
“ I was not as anxious to put assessment into [learning communities] this year. I think sometimes if people feel you’re judging right away, that it’s not good, and I also know that we want to involve [staff members].”
“ I don’t believe in grades’, some [faculty] have said. ‘My classes are so process oriented that students have the chance to keep working on whatever it is until they raise their grades high enough. I give them huge amounts of feedback and they will just implement the feedback and its impossible for them not to get good grades.’ ‘The focus of the class is so personal, that how can you grade people down for expressing their opinions about their own lives?”
“ If you’ve worked with Teaching/Learning centers like that you realize that there soon turns to be a kind of a group of faculty that many of them show up to many other things, and so you end up over the long haul seeing a lot of people, I suppose 50 percent of the people are kind of regulars at this.”
– Landgrant Flagship, Math
Patterns of recommitment: Lessons from senior faculty
Teaching innovation can reinvigorate career
“ I had a burnout experience and so that is what I reckon paved the way for my readiness for this experience. There’s nothing like a trauma to shake things up in a hurry.” – Landgrant Flagship, English
Increased investment in institution
“ I’m much more ready to invest in the institution. Its clear that I’m going to be here, and teaching is something which is a benefit primarily or at least at first glance to the institution.” – Urban University, English