Gallatin believes strongly in giving teachers substantive feedback on their classes as a matter of professional development and to enable the school to make sound decisions about hiring, promotion, tenure, and reappointment. There are two principal ways of assessing teaching—peer observations and student evaluations.
As part of Gallatin's commitment to teaching excellence, all faculty members, full-time and part-time, are periodically observed by a member of the Gallatin full-time faculty. In addition, all new instructors are observed in their first semester. If your course is scheduled to be observed, the faculty observer will give you reasonable notice and will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient date for the visit. You may want to meet beforehand to discuss the plans for the class, so the observer knows something about what you are doing. During the visit, the observer will sit and watch the class interactions, taking notes, but generally not actively participating. Afterward, the observer will fill out an Class Observation form in which he or she will provide a brief description of the class, noting what worked well and suggesting areas for improvement. The form will then be sent to you for your signature. Your signature indicates only that you have read the report (and not necessarily agreed with it), and you are free to append your own comments to the observation. Upon your request, you and the observer will have a post-observation conference. The final observation (and any comments from you) is then submitted to the curriculum committee chair, who will share it with your program director. For more details about the observation process, please see our Class Observation Guidelines.
Near the end of the semester, every Gallatin course receives a course evaluation packet from the dean's office. Please carefully follow the instructions for the distribution, completion and collection of the forms. One essential element of the procedures is that, once you have read the directions and selected a student to collect the forms, you leave the room; students need to be confident that their responses will be anonymous, so you should not handle the forms after they have been filled out. You should allow approximately ten minutes at the beginning of your class for the evaluation process. Distributing forms at the beginning of the class instead of at the end yields more thoughtful feedback as students are not rushing off to the next class. Course evaluations are reviewed by the Curriculum Committee and the deans of the school. After the semester is over (and your final grades have been submitted), you will be sent a copy of your forms, along with several statistical reports.
Though at the end of each semester, you will be asked to distribute course evaluations to your students (and will receive a copy of these soon after you turn in your grades), many faculty like to receive feedback earlier. One of the best ways to do that is to create your own mid-semester evaluation. Below are some format suggestions from the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE).
Stop, Keep, Start, (very quick feedback):
Ask students to write down one thing they would like you to stop doing, one thing they’d like you to keep doing, and one thing they’d like you to start doing.
Two short, open ended questions:
1. What’s helpful to your learning?
2. What suggestions do you have for change?
Two other, short, open ended questions:
1. How is the course going for you?
2. What would help make it a better learning experience for you?
Rate the course and explain the rating:
1. On a scale of 1-7, with 1 being low and 7 being high, how is the course going for you?
2. Why did you choose this number?
One more tip from CTE: after collecting the evaluation, at the next class thank students for the feedback, briefly address their comments, and tell them how things will be adjusted based on their suggestions.
Ask the Center for Teaching Excellence for guidance. The Center offers a variety of resources for instructors looking for feedback on their teaching, from do-it-yourself exercises to providing a consultant to observe your class and provide personal, confidential feedback.
Center for Teaching Excellence
The Center for Teaching Excellence is a university-wide resource office that provides a variety of services designed to promote teaching effectiveness. Faculty consultants are available to observe (and, if requested, videotape) a faculty member’s class and then meet with the instructor to help improve teaching strategies. The center also offers teaching workshops and symposia that address a number of pedalogical concerns from grading and leading class discussions to teaching strategies in the multicultural classroom.