Student evaluation of instruction was a part of academic life at UCLA even before the University of California President Charles Hitch first implemented the requirement in a 1969 memo addressed to University of California Chancellors and Members of the Academic Council. Hitch felt strongly that the considered opinion of the students themselves must always be taken into account. while recognizing that student evaluations provide only one of many useful tools for assessing teaching effectiveness. As a response to President Hitch, UCLA formed the "Task Force on the Evaluation of Teaching" in 1970, whose mission was to assess departmental and student evaluation practices at the University, as well as throughout the United States. Upon review, the Task Force recommended that "an ongoing process of regular evaluations be conducted emphasizing the facilitation of faculty growth [and] the need for feedback for the development of UCLA's instructional programs." Particular significance was placed on the need for student surveys of teaching effectiveness for every course for every instructor. Following the Task Force guidelines, UCLA's Office of Instructional Development has provided this service to the campus community through its Evaluation of Instruction Program (EIP). Presently, EIP distributes more than 300,0000 forms annually to approximately 100 departments and programs, and provides forms, analyses, and reports for evaluation of courses, instructors and teaching assistants.
As part of this service, the Evaluation of Teaching Guide offers insight into the University's policies and procedures regarding the evaluation process, provides interpretive techniques for making sense of student survey data, presents informal evaluation methods and feedback tools, and suggests resources for consultation and assistance. A brief literature review and bibliography of seminal work in the field of instructional evaluation is offered as well. The format of the Evaluation Guide should facilitate quick and efficient browsing by experienced UCLA faculty who wish to find an answer to an immediate question, as well as assist new faculty who may have more extensive questions about the process of evaluation of instruction. The Evaluation Guide is designed to complement other evaluation resources available at the Office of Instructional Development for use by all UCLA faculty members.
Effective teaching can be defined, very simply, as activities that promote student learning. It encompasses all all of those instructor behaviors that foster student learning of the instructor's and/or of the institution's educational objectives. Ideally, the students will also share at least some of these objectives. This definition of effective teaching includes curriculum and course development, advising, and supervision of student research as well as classroom performance. Given this broad definition, no single approach is sufficient for evaluating effective teaching. Rather, student ratings, self-reviews, peer evaluations, and objective criteria such as student performances and improvements are all useful for evaluating different aspects of teaching.
Table 1.1 (Below) indicates some important sources of data that can be used to measure effective teaching. The sources fall into three main types: Students, peers, and the instructor him/herself (through self-reflection). Since measuring teaching is clearly not an exact science, the more varied the data sources, the more useful the measurement is likely to be.
Table 1.1 Sources of Information about Teaching
The following is a list of some important sources of Information
about teaching and their main advantages and disadvantages for
Systematic Student Evaluations
These are very important for a global picture of the course. The
students are the ones who are doing the learning, so their
perception is important. Their response often highlights the
strengths and weaknesses. However, students are not subject matter
experts. Also students' ratings are sometimes influenced by their
own motivations, attitudes and needs.
Interviews with Students
This is a very useful evaluation procedure which can yield much
information in a short time. A group of students from a course
are interviewed by other faculty about their experience in a
Long-Term Follow-up of Students
Surveys or interviews with seniors and alumni can yield
information based on a wider context of university and life
experience than given by the usual end-of-course student survey.
However, reaching alumni can be difficult so response rates are
Visits by other faculty can provide information about the process
of teaching. However, correct use of this procedure is time
consuming. It is best done when training can be provided, and two
or more visits can be arranged by at least two observers. In
addition, this technique is most effective when prefaced by a
discussion between instructor and observer regarding the goals of
Colleague Evaluation of Materials
Colleagues have the expertise to evaluate the quality of a course
as evidenced by its content and format. Colleagues can also
evaluate student achievement as indicated by performance on exams
Teaching Activities, Reports and Self-Reviews
The instructor's statement of his /her goals for the course,
teaching methods and philosophy, student outcomes, and plans for
improvement are a critical source of information. Oftentimes,
there may be external factors, bad classes, difficult teaching
problems and experiments with innovative teaching techniques
(which may lower ratings initially before ultimately raising them)
on which only the instructor can reflect. A systematic self-review
has the potential for contributing significantly to the
instructor's improvement by focusing on the strengths and
weaknesses of the course in light of his/her original course
objectives. If the instructor notes broad shifts from the
course's original objectives it may lead to a reassessment of
methodological approaches when drafting future courses.
Measures of Student Achievement
When appropriate tests are available, measures of student learning
are a prime criterion of effective teaching. However, valid direct
measures of student learning require considerable developmental
effort. Also, interpretation of achievement tests require some
comparable measures of student motivation and interest. There are
a number of informal assessment techniques which may be employed
to gather this information.
(See for example, Angelo and Cross, 1993).
Since there is a great deal of focus on student evaluations used to assess teaching at UCLA, much of the remainder of this guide pertains to the implementation of this particular measure. However, the other two sources of data can provide valuable additional insight, and should be considered as part of any comprehensive approach.
Arreola, Raoul. 2000. Developing a Comprehensive Faculty Evaluation System: A Handbook for College Faculty and Administrators on Designing and Operating a Comprehensive Faculty Evaluation System. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.
Angelo, T.A., and Cross, K.P. 1993. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, Second Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Davis, B.G. 1993. Tools For Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Seldin, P. et al. 1999. Changing Practices in Evaluation Teaching: a Practical Guide to Improved Faculty Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company. Inc.