Policy on Collegial Evaluation and Professional Development of Teaching

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Draft Date: 2/13/14
Revision Date: 4/13/14
Adopted Date: 4/18/14
Effective As Of: 4/18/14

Purpose of the Policy

As the Institute expands its faculty and program offerings, we maintain professionalism through a collegial process of teaching review can help faculty develop. Therefore, the purpose of this policy is to foster a collegial culture of teaching excellence by emphasizing observation as a formative process of professional development. The underlying values for this policy are based on the principles of professionalism whereby all faculty members provides evidence for evaluation of their teaching effectiveness in accordance with the requirements of the Faculty Code.

Principles of Professionalism

The following principles are recognized as those guiding the faculty peer reviews of teaching.

  • Intellectual and public honesty: Faculty members have an implicit ethic that demands we tell ourselves and others truths insofar as we understand them.
  • Self-knowledge: Professionals seek to examine and articulate their own behaviors, assumptions, feelings, and thoughts in an on-going effort to gain deeper insight into our professional practices.
  • Duty to improve: Each of us has a duty to reflect on our strengths and weaknesses and make use of that knowledge to plan and execute strategies for improvements. The default assumption is that all faculty members, tenured, tenure-track, full-time and part-time lecturers will adhere to these principles. The intent of this policy is primarily to offer the opportunity for every faculty member to provide public demonstration of their professionalism in teaching in order to build mutual respect and trust as a foundation for a collegial culture.

Policy Scope

The policy will encompass the collegial peer observation process in the following areas:

  • Formative Classroom Observations for Professional Effectiveness
  • Course Material Effectiveness Review
  • Merit Review as it relates to Teaching Effectiveness

These are explained below.

Informal Classroom Observation

The spirit of a voluntary, informal classroom observation is to help faculty members identify and set goals for improving their effectiveness. To that end, every faculty member is expected to visit other colleagues' classrooms during the course of the academic year and invite colleagues to their classroom to observe. During the invited visits observers are expected to make note of particular aspects of teaching practice that raise questions in their minds, and discuss "What I learned from this visit" at a mutually agreeable time with the observee. The purpose of such interactions is for colleagues to think about what they do and may take for granted, as an assist in realizing the second bullet point of professionalism principles above. Prior to the classroom observation, both faculty members should meet briefly to discuss the goals of the particular class to be observed. Observers are to write a brief narrative, guided by the questions outlined in the revised observation form (click here) following the visit and discuss its contents with the faculty member observed. Reflective summaries of informal classroom observations should be included in the teaching section of faculty annual reports. Names of faculty observers need not be used.

Timing of Visits and Observation Narratives

The visits need to be completed in time to inform every faculty member's annual merit review report. This implies that visits should take place during the first two quarters of the academic year.

Course Material Effectiveness Review

For the purposes of quality control, one's curriculum committee, or a committee-designated course steward, should review course materials for any course being taught for the first time by any faculty member.

Course Material Review

Course material review should begin with one's curriculum committee or course steward reviewing a syllabus and any prepared materials before the onset of the quarter. This initial review is primarily for the purpose of identifying any element of the course plan that is not consistent with the course's master syllabus and/or UWT policies. Questions and concerns that are raised by the committee or course steward should be addressed by the appropriate curriculum committee, course steward, faculty member, and faculty mentor.


It is the responsibility of the curriculum committees to ensure that faculty members have provided access to the content management system where course materials have been maintained, and to collect hard copies, if any of other course materials used during the quarter. The program chair should discuss any serious issues or concerns that may arise from the committee's course material review with the faculty member, involving the Director if need be.

In the case of TINST or other non-degree program instruction, the Director or his/her designee has the responsibility to review.

Merit Review of Teaching Effectiveness

This policy only covers that portion of the merit review concerned with teaching effectiveness, which is just one part of the merit review itself. Policies on scholarly work and service reviews are covered elsewhere.

In the spirit of promoting professional responsibility, the assessment of merit, as per the Faculty Code, shall be based primarily on a faculty member's demonstration of such teaching effectiveness in a narrative report. For purposes of this policy, a faculty member's teaching effectiveness is evidenced by a substantial proportion of students achieving the course objectives as given in the course syllabus, the annual review teaching narrative and student course evaluations.

Faculty Annual Report Section on Teaching

All full-time faculty members will write a teaching narrative as part of their annual reports that will be used by the voting faculty senior in rank, as per Faculty Code, for the purpose of assessing merit status. It is the responsibility of each faculty member to write a clear summary of their experiences with regard to teaching effectiveness, reflect on those experiences and their outcomes, and provide evidence of effectiveness. The narrative should focus on courses taught, their stated outcomes, and evidence that those outcomes were achieved. But it should also include a self-reflection of effectiveness in terms of what methods were adopted, what seemed to work well (and why) and what might have not worked as well as expected (and why). It should include discussions of new methods attempted and reasons for adopting them, and make explicit reference to the classroom observation activities described above. Faculty members' annual reports should include a section discussing any visits that they made during the year, what classes they visited, and what they feel they learned from those visits. They should also discuss the visits made to their own classes and report on what they feel the value, or lack thereof, was from those visitations. This section of the annual report can include, at the discretion of the faculty member, any testimonial statements given by students that provide additional evidence of effectiveness.

Goal Setting in Meeting with the Director

All teaching observation activity should be reviewed at the meeting with the Director as part of determining reasonable goals to set for the following academic year. The agreed upon goals should become part of the annual merit letter. Along with this goal setting exercise the Director and the faculty member should review the prior year's goals and discuss what progress had been made toward achieving them. If there are problems in meeting goals then the Director and the faculty member should discuss how the problems can be eliminated.

Use of Student Evaluations

While students' perceptions of the effectiveness of teaching are a valued part of determining the merits of a teacher, the quantitative portion of student course evaluations should be used primarily to assess response patterns for possible problems. The numeric results should not be used as a convenient measure of teaching effectiveness. The student comment sheets (the "yellow" sheets) should be made available in the merit review process but only be used to make a more informed assessment, especially of extra-meritorious or non-meritorious, if indicated (e.g., if the numeric ratings are uniformly high or low).

If faculty members wish to do so, they may ask students to provide more in-depth evaluations via anonymous surveys or request of the Director that an SGID to be performed. This additional information may be submitted for the merit review.

Committee Review

Merit recommendations are voted on by a committee of those senior in rank to the faculty member under review. The committee members are expected to have carefully and thoughtfully read the reviewee's narrative and examined any additional evidence submitted by them. The committee may offer additional observations that are pertinent to the discussion of the reviewee's merit. It will be up to the committee as a whole as to whether such observations are, in fact, pertinent.


Teaching Narrative Format for the Annual Report

Summary of Teaching Activities in the Prior Year

Course numbers/titles, quarters (including the one in which the report is written), number of students. Prior experiences with these courses (how many times taught, how many years, etc.) Additional teaching-related activities, which might include: students mentored and advised for research, internships, projects, etc.

Assessment of Student Evaluation Scores, General Abilities and Motivations

Summarize student evaluation scores and comments for all listed courses. Explain how these scores and comments have changed over time. Describe the general level of student motivation, how they respond to your teaching, and the degree to which students are reaching a course’s learning objectives.

Your Self-Assessment of Effective Teaching and Methods

Provide evidence of “effective teaching” and explain, if appropriate, how your perspective has changed over time. Describe how you implement the methods you use most often (e.g. lecture, discussion, exercises, interaction, active learning), and why they’re appropriate in the context of the courses you have taught. Describe any barriers that inhibit effective teaching.

Summary of Formative Teaching Activities

Provide a list of formative teaching activities you have participated in since the last annual review, including classroom observations and any teaching-related workshops or conferences you’ve attended. Discuss what you learned from these activities and describe anything new that you have tried in an effort to improve your teaching effectiveness.


Describe your teaching-related achievements attained, such as teaching awards and grants, as well as course or curriculum development activities you have participated in since the last review. You may include achievements that are the integration of activities over several years.


Please provide any other ideas or thoughts you have and would like to share with the faculty regarding teaching effectiveness.