Teaching Effectiveness in RTP

This page provides information that may be useful to RTP reviewers at all levels. The discussion here is focused only on identifying and improving teaching effectiveness; for information on RTP process, procedures and policies, please see the Office of Faculty Advancement’s evaluations page.

University Policy on Teaching Effectiveness:

The University Policy File lays out specific criteria that may be used for evaluating teaching effectiveness, as well as types of evidence that may be considered (all emphasis added):

“3.1 Teaching Effectiveness: The primary qualification for reappointment, tenure, or promotion shall be a demonstration of continuing excellence in teaching. Criteria for evaluating teaching effectiveness may include: command of the subject and currency in the field; skill in organizing and presenting material in ways that engage and motivate diverse student populations to participate in their own learning; ability to foster critical thinking; integration of professional growth into the curriculum; reflection upon and adjustment of teaching strategies in response to assessment of student learning; and use of innovative or creative pedagogies. Evidence for evaluating teaching effectiveness shall include student evaluations of instruction applied in appropriate teaching situations (e.g., classroom teaching, public lectures, seminars, studio, or laboratory teaching). Evidence also may include: peer evaluations of teaching; creative course syllabi with clearly-stated learning outcomes; honors and distinctions received for excellence in teaching; textbooks; development of instructionally related materials; use of new technologies in teaching and learning; involving and mentoring students in research, scholarship, or creative activities; significant contributions to curriculum development; and contributions to student recruitment, advising, mentoring, and retention. Where appropriate, faculty are encouraged to contexualize all evidence within a continuing process of reflection and adjustment intended to promote a learner-centered and evidence-based approach to teaching effectiveness.”

[page 147, under Reappointment, Tenure, and Promotion: Criteria (Excluding Library Faculty and Student Affairs Faculty)]

Resources for Formative Feedback to Improve Teaching Effectiveness

For periodic evaluations of candidates in years 2, 4 and 5, RTP reviewers are asked to identify “Accomplishments, innovations, and improvements” and “Specific suggestions for further development, reflection, or correction in the next academic year” in each of the three areas (see Evaluation form on the Faculty Advancement website). Fortunately, all of the established criteria are supported by a large body of research on effective teaching and learning that has identified certain observable behaviors and characteristics that reviewers can look for in candidate’s materials and use to guide suggestions for improvement. To support this more-formative evaluation of teaching evidence according to the established criteria, the Center for Teaching and Learning has created several resources for committees, Chairs and Deans:

  • Suggestions for Implementing Senate Criteria in Reviewing Teaching Effectiveness (PDF): For each criterion, relevant evidence-based behaviors and characteristics are listed and then examples are provided to highlight how such information might manifest in the types of materials typically included in RTP files.
  • University Criteria for Teaching Effectiveness and the Research on Effective Teaching (.docx): This handout provides more detailed information about the research supporting behaviors and characteristics associated with the criteria for teaching effectiveness specified in the University Policy File, and highlights some of the common areas where instructors most often need improvement. There are also suggestions for ways that ‘advanced’ instructors might still improve further.
  • Summary of What the Best College Teachers Do (.docx): Ken Bain’s book is a classic in college pedagogy. This handout summarizes the commonalities that Bain and his team found among the best college teachers and provides the questions that the best college teachers ask as they prepare to teach (it may be useful to provide the latter to junior faculty).
  • The CTL’s Teaching Issues pages provide advice on best practices and links to many other resources for a range of specific teaching topics.

It is important to emphasize that there are many ways for faculty to be effective teachers and the included examples span the range of possibilities, though they are not exhaustive. It would not be expected that any one candidate would provide evidence consistent with every example. However, more effective teachers will generally provide materials that reflect the indicated behaviors and characteristics more often than less effective teachers.