Faculty at Michigan Technological University participate in a variety of activities in carrying out their responsibilities as members of their professions. In their roles as both creators and disseminators of knowledge, they teach, engage in scholarly activities and serve the academic community. This report addresses the improvement and the measurement of the quality of teaching at Michigan Tech; in particular, it focuses on the quality of course instruction.
The MTU Faculty Senate Committee on Teaching Effectiveness was established by unanimous vote of the Senate on November 2, 1983. The charge to the Committee was twofold:
This committee was formed in response to concerns about teaching which are shared by the entire university community. Students are concerned because they want good teachers and they want their opinions heard. Faculty are concerned because they want to be effective teachers and they want their good teaching recognized and valued. Administrators are concerned because they want to provide quality instruction for MTU students and they want a fair method of identifying and rewarding good teachers.
Several problems came to the attention of this committee. First, there is no clearly defined source of help on campus for those faculty members who seek to improve their teaching skills. Second, teaching evaluation is not performed in a consistent, systematic manner throughout the university: 1) student evaluations are conducted irregularly using numerous, diverse rating instruments; 2) colleague evaluations of teaching which are conducted for reappointment, promotion and tenure lack consistency from department to department and are not routinely used in salary adjustment recommendations. Our proposal addresses these problems.
The Committee defines effective classroom teaching as clear communication of appropriate course content. Workable teaching effectiveness programs use evaluation information collected from more than one source and include provisions for providing help to faculty in improving their teaching skills. Students are good judges of how effectively knowledge is communicated but colleagues are better judges of appropriateness and currency of course content. A center for teaching excellence can provide guidance and practical assistance to faculty who wish to continually sharpen their teaching skills. The center is an essential component of a teaching effectiveness program. Once the evaluations identify areas where refinement is needed, the center can help the faculty member work toward real improvement.
II. REPORT OF COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES
The Committee studied the literature concerning teaching effectiveness and teaching evaluation. It surveyed departments and schools at MTU to learn how much and what kind of evaluation of teaching is currently in place, and it surveyed peer institutions to determine what is being done about teaching evaluation elsewhere. The Committee also visited MTU departments to elicit faculty opinion about evaluating teaching. The detailed results of these surveys were presented to the Senate in a previous committee report (Appendix C to Senate Meeting No. 136; May 2, 1984; page 2325).
According to our survey, MTU faculty consider the preferred sources of information for evaluating teaching to be, in order of importance:
MTU faculty indicated that an evaluation system should include input from a number of sources, that there must be flexibility in the "weight" given to teaching in arriving at personnel decisions (depending on the situation of the individual faculty member), and that an evaluation system must be taken seriously by academic administrators.
A Teaching Effectiveness Workshop conducted by Peter Seldin of Pace University was held at the Ford Forestry Center in September, 1984. The workshop was attended by faculty representatives from all academic departments and by academic administrators.
III. DISCUSSION OF PREVIOUS DRAFT PROPOSAL
The Committee prepared a draft proposal which described a very comprehensive teaching evaluation procedure and the establishment of a center for teaching excellence. That proposal was circulated to all faculty and was described fully in an article in the Lode. The Committee held open meetings with faculty and students for the purpose of receiving criticism and comment about the draft proposal. Most of the favorable comments concerned the development of a center for teaching excellence and the systematic student evaluation procedure. Most faculty criticism focused on the proposed colleague evaluation system, and on the projected cost (in time and dollars) of the entire proposal. In addition, faculty sought evidence that the results of a teaching evaluation system would be taken seriously by academic administrators.
Comments and criticisms made by faculty and students concerning the draft proposal have been taken into account in preparing this final proposal.
The Senate recommends that:
I. CENTER FOR TEACHING EXCELLENCE
A Center for Teaching Excellence is a professionally staffed facility which will sponsor workshops and training programs for faculty and graduate teaching assistants, as well as provide private consultation for individual faculty members. The Center for Teaching Effectiveness materials on individual faculty shall be kept confidential and will not be made available to administrators.
II. TEACHING EVALUATION SYSTEM
A. Student Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness
B. Peer or Colleague Evaluation of Teaching Effectiveness
III. IMPLEMENTATION OF TEACHING EFFECTIVENESS PROPOSAL
The teaching evaluation system will be implemented for a trial year beginning in the Fall Term of the 1985-86 academic year. During the late spring and summer of 1986, the entire system will be evaluated by surveying all affected persons to ask their opinions about the usefulness and fairness of the system. The Senate Teaching Effectiveness Committee will use the results of those surveys to recommend necessary modifications.
Because the success of this proposal will depend on the Center for Teaching Excellence, we recommend that plans for developing this center go forward as quickly as possible.
Initial Senate approval of the teaching effectiveness proposal is requested for one year only. The Teaching Effectiveness Committee suggests that the Senate reconsider the proposal after this trial year and make a final recommendation about the proposal.
Adopted by Senate: 1 May 1985
Approved by Administration: 14 May 1985
Implementation Period Extended by Senate Proposal 7-86
See Proposal 12-03