Teaching Evaluation

There are many aspects to the evaluation of teaching at USF, and several faculty-driven choices.


Tenure Guidelines

The tenure section of the official 2014 University guidelines includes the following language:

In addition to course syllabi and student evaluations, a candidate may present the following kinds of documentation of teaching effectiveness: instructional materials (such as case studies, labs, discussion prompts, group projects), assessment activities and products (such as papers, tests, performances, problem sets), and other material used in connection with courses; new course development, course redesign, and adaptation to new formats and media through incorporation of emerging technologies; professional development activities and efforts at improvement; peer observations and evaluations; student performance on pre- and post-instruction measures; exemplary student work and outcomes; records of advising and mentoring; supervision of teaching and research assistants; thesis direction; and teaching awards. Approaches to teaching and concomitant sources of evidence of teaching effectiveness may vary across fields, units, and candidates; consequently, variance in candidate portfolios may also be expected.

Evaluation of teaching must take into consideration an academic unit's instructional mission; an instructor's assignment of duties within unit; class size, scope, and sequence within the curriculum; as well as format of delivery and the types of instructional media utilized. Evaluation of teaching effectiveness should consider the wide range of factors that impact student learning and success. Moreover, effective teaching and its impact on learning can take place in a variety of contexts: in campus classrooms; team teaching; online; in the field; in clinical settings; workshops; panels; through service learning activities, community engagement and internships; in laboratories; within on- and off-campus communities, in organizations, in education abroad settings, such as field schools, and through mentoring of students, including undergraduate and graduate student research. Evaluation of teaching effectiveness in formats and settings outside the classroom should include consideration of the impact of student learning on practice, application, and policy.

Check with your individual academic unit to see if a local policy is in effect mandating how teaching is to be evaluated.

If there is no local policy in effect, faculty are urged to consider seizing the initiative, and using the opportunity to "market themselves" as effective classroom instructors. This could take the shape of presenting your teaching documentation (including student evaluations) in a manner that best provides context and relevant details—see the sections below for samples and directions for creating such documents.

Contextualized Student Evaluations

Since many departments make use of summary data from student evaluations, individual faculty members may wish to voluntarily provide visual charts to their chairs, so that their evaluations are seen in context (such as compared to the College or to the wider university). In addition to providing a more-accessible visual reference, these charts can be fruitfully combined with other data, such as relative class sizes or average GPA by class (or by department), which can shed light on summary student evaluation numbers.

Our sample packet of contextualized student evaluations shows one way of assembling relevant data visually.

Here are the directions for assembling the charts of contextualized student evaluations, as seen in the sample packet.

Teaching Portfolios

It is useful for faculty at all stages to create and maintain a portfolio that shows your work, experience, and growth as an educator. Such a living document can be used at times of tenure/promotion, renewing contracts, and convincing a hiring committee to offer the job to you in the first place. We recommend using Google Sites to house an electronic portfolio, which is easy to use and you can update at will.

The Peter Seldin model for organizing a teaching portfolio utilizes not only various forms of documentation, but two mini-essays to guide the reader's eyes and provide an over-arching structure to the layout:

Peer Evaluation of Teaching Portfolios and Rubrics

Here are several examples of rubrics for teaching portfolios that you might consider adopting/adapting for your own purposes:

  1. University of West Indies
  2. Niagara University
  3. Indiana University


Adjunct / TA Evaluation

Every instructor at USF, including adjuncts and graduate teaching assistants (who teach their own classes as Instructor of Record), should be evaluated at least annually on their teaching performance for the specific courses they are assigned. While some degree of standardization is preferable, there is flexibility in how adjunct (and teaching assistant) teaching evaluations can be recorded in writing. Departments, Schools, and Colleges may have individual forms already in place that they use for adjunct or TA teaching evaluation. This form, which can be modified, is an excellent resource for departments without an existing process or template for evaluating adjuncts and TAs.

Chair Visitation and Evaluation Forms

There is no required form for departmental observations. Chairs are invited to view this sample rubric and customize it for their own needs.

Midterm Evaluations

A few weeks into each semester is an ideal time to gather formative feedback from students (it also provides an opportunity to make changes to the class while the semester is still young!) This can be done by handing out an anonymous paper form; you are free to use as-is or adapt as you see fit. One best practice: after the results are viewed, it's always ideal to follow up with the students, explaining what can (or can't) be changed in the class as a result of their ideas, providing justification when warranted.

Self-Administered End of Term Evaluations

It can be useful to administer your own end-of-term evaluations directly in class to ensure greater participation. Small classes might use paper forms, while larger ones could use the Survey functionality of Canvas quizzes. Some faculty ask the same questions that will be asked on the official online evaluation for the purposes of comparison when there is greater participation. An alternative might be ask students about their critical thinking development in this course; Riaan van Zyl and associates developed this tool you can use for this purpose.

Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness

Faculty can complement their teaching portfolios by considering other pieces of evidence of their teaching. Here are some ideas from the University of Kansas:


Additional Resources

Characteristics of Strong Teaching

Faculty Evaluation Systems

Faculty Evaluation Rubrics