Academics / University

FaCIT holds third workshop on documenting teaching effectiveness

Challenges and ideas about documenting teaching effectiveness were discussed at a Faculty Center for Innovative Teaching meeting Tuesday in the Charles V. Park Library.

The meeting was attended by a handful of faculty who discussed concerns, successes and ideas regarding teaching effectiveness. Some faculty said that just as important was learning effectiveness.

FaCIT director Jim Therrell said the purpose of the meeting, the third meeting under the theme of documenting teaching effectiveness, was to help fulfill the mission of FaCIT to “assist faculty in engaging their students.”

Therrell said the office consults with about 40 to 50 percent of on-campus faculty each year about widespread issues, or about 500 faculty annually.

The faculty, as a whole, has a common concern; under-utilizing technology, which could alienate a hallmark of the current generation of college students. Therrell said it’s a conversation many faculty bring up, notably because FaCIT also trains them about different technology and how to use them in the classroom. The challenge of faculty today is to avoid being viewed by their students as ignorant or incompetent — and a misuse of technology in the classroom could portray them as such.

The meeting discussed the different teaching evaluations, said instructional designer Eron Drake.

“We need to look at multiple sources of evidence to see what kind of teachers we are,” Drake said.

Instructional designer Lauren Griffith said some evaluative measures, like the materials peer review, could help generate new ideas in departments about teaching methods.

“(The materials peer review) also broadens the conversation about teaching in the department,” Griffith said.

The No. 1 source of evidence for teaching effectiveness is the student opinion survey. However, concerns suggest the scope of the survey is misaligned with the measure of effective teaching. Amy Ford, English language and literature professor, said the surveys don’t really answer to the effectiveness of teaching.

“I feel defensive with some of the SOS scores I get,” Ford said. “I despise the questions that are on it. It seems that they ask basically if they like me and not necessarily whether I’m an effective teacher. In the qualitative answers, they say I’m disrespectful, because I don’t respect the fact that some of them work 20 hours a week. Some of them say I give them twice the workload they get in other courses.”

Therrell said the FaCIT meetings are open to all faculty to attend. Some are videotaped and made available as podcasts online for off-campus faculty.

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