For many of us the primary means for assessing how well we teach have been student evaluation instruments and possibly, on occasion, peer visits of our classes. Yes, we faculty still make the final judgments about teaching effectiveness since in most cases the student evaluations and peer visit observations are summarized and the results are put into some kind of context. But in the end, all too often judgments about the quality of our teaching come down to the observations students make about what goes on in our classrooms. We feel uneasy about the over-reliance on student evaluations in measuring teaching effectiveness. We even wonder whether something as qualitative as teaching can be measured, yet we know that somehow our teaching must be assessed.
But, what is it that we really want to access? Reform of the mathematics curriculum, changes in our style of teaching no longer does the lecture method reign supreme and variations in our own methods for assessing student learning have led us to address this question more urgently than we have done in the past. Some tentative answers are now beginning to emerge and along with them a variety of methods with which to assess teaching effectiveness are being explored. What follows in this section are descriptions of some of those experiments.
In the first article, Alan Knoerr, Michael McDonald and Rae McCormick describe a departmental-wide effort to assess teaching, both while a course is in progress as well as an on-going practice. This effort grew out of curriculum reform, specifically the reform of the calculus sequence at the college.
Next, Pat Collier tells us of an approach his department is taking to broaden the definition of what it means to be an effective teacher and then, how to assess such effectiveness. This effort grew out of dissatisfaction with the use of student evaluations as the primary measure of the quality of one's teaching.
Hamkins discusses using video and peer feedback to improve teaching. While his experience with these techniques involved graduate students, the methods can be modified for use with faculty members, both junior and senior.
Lastly, we have two articles which give us some
guidance as to how we might use peer visitation more effectively
in the assessment of teaching. Deborah Bergstrand
describes her department's class visitation program which is
designed to be of benefit to both junior and senior faculty.
Pao-sheng Hsu talks about her experience with a peer review
team, consisting of faculty from within and outside the