Evaluating your teaching is an iterative process of gathering evidence which you use to improve and enhance your teaching.
Common forms of evaluation include gathering student feedback to inform how you can improve, including feedback from student questionnaires, and from other ways to get student feedback; or working with other teachers to evaluate and enhance your teaching such as from peer review and Teaching and Learning Circles (see the Otago Teaching Profile for more information).
As a result of regularly evaluating and improving your teaching, you will also generate evidence that you can use for promotion and confirmation purposes. You can describe this evidence in your Otago Teaching Profile.
Using evaluations to improve teaching and demonstrate quality
Details about the Quality Forum 2017
In this quality forum there was an overview of:
- The Otago University guidelines for evaluating teaching
- The various methods you can use to evaluate and enhance your teaching, and
- How you can use the results of these methods to demonstrate the quality of your teaching
This was followed by a panel discussion where teachers shared how they evaluate their teaching and then used this process to demonstrate the quality of their teaching. Students shared their perceptions of evaluation and suggestions for how evaluation can be more effective for improving teaching and learning.
Facilitator: Associate Professor Clinton Golding, HEDC
- Associate Professor Karyn Paringatai, Prime Ministers teaching award winner 2013
- Brad Hurren, National teaching award winner 2017
- Professor Ruth Fitzgerald, National teaching award winner 2017
- Professor Vernon Squire, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) 2017
- Bryn Jenkins OUSA student representative 2017
Evaluate to improve: Useful approaches to student evaluations
Here are a few articles to refer to.
Use student evaluation results to improve teaching, Clinton Golding (2012) Akoranga, 8, 8-10
Evaluate to improve: useful approaches to student evaluation. Clinton Golding and Lee Adam (2014)
Many teachers in higher education use feedback from students to evaluate their teaching, but only some use these evaluations to improve their teaching. One important factor that makes the difference is the teacher’s approach to their evaluations.
In this article, we identify some useful approaches for improving teaching. We conducted focus groups with award-winning university teachers who use student evaluations to improve their teaching, and we identified how they approach their evaluation data. We found that these teachers take a reflective approach, aiming for constant improvement, and see their evaluation data as formative feedback, useful for improving learning outcomes for their students. We summarise this as the improvement approach, and we offer it for other teachers to emulate. We argue that if teachers take this reflective, formative, student-centred approach, they can also use student evaluations to improve their teaching, and this approach should be fostered by institutions to encourage more teachers to use student evaluations to improve their teaching.
Other ways of getting student feedback
Student feedback is essential for evaluating your teaching. You need to know whether your teaching is ‘working’ for your students. Student evaluation questionnaires are often the best way to get feedback, because they give you a snapshot of all your students, but sometimes you might also want other forms e.g. if want to go deeper, or small groups where questionnaires are not as useful.
Teaching and Learning Circles
Teaching and Learning Circles (TLCs) is a University-wide initiative, which combines observations of teaching with supportive peer conversations to provide insight into enhancing teaching. TLCs involve group-based, reciprocal peer observation of teaching with the ultimate goal of strengthening teaching culture and practice.
Teaching and Learning Circles provide “the opportunity to talk about teaching so that it gives you the mind space to reflect upon your own [teaching]. It’s that constructive alignment of seeing others and talking about the ways they get their class to work and being able to talk about your own process with them that is probably, what I think, is missing if I do it with peer review.” (TLCs participant, 2018)
The TLCs process
Each TLC consists of three or four members (preferably from different departments/disciplines). The average time commitment to participate in a TLC is four to five hours over a semester. This includes pre- and post-observation meetings as well as observing the teaching of each member.
There are six stages to the process as shown below.
The Teaching and Learning Circles Resource Pack details the process and provides helpful prompts for self-reflection and post-observation discussion.
Any data generated from your participation in TLCs can be used as evidence of effective teaching to complement student evaluations, and / or to support your teaching statement in the Otago Teaching Profile when applying for confirmation or promotion.
“This has been a really useful and positive experience for me. It has really helped to be able to engage with others’ teaching, especially from such different fields, and at a time when we were in danger of feeling isolated, this group provided the extra support I needed.” (TLCs member during COVID lockdown, 2020)
Teaching and Learning Circles was launched in the Division of Humanities in October 2017 by the then Associate Dean (Academic) Professor Tim Cooper who sought to enhance teaching practice and culture in the Division. The programme is now offered across all Divisions. Those who have participated in Teaching and Learning Circles have a range of teaching experience yet have all reported on the benefits of observing others teach and engaging in supportive conversations about teaching.
Read the Ako-funded research project about the beneficial outcomes for university teachers who have participated in TLCs.
The TLCs co-ordinator, Dr Tracy Rogers
Dr Rogers can help you form or join a Teaching and Learning Circle.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to request to join a TLC.