Skip to main content

Evaluation of Teaching

Using Multiple Forms of Evidence to Evaluate Teaching

Teaching is a complex activity, and the way that we evaluate teaching should ideally take into account this complexity. Although student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are often the primary way we think about evaluating teaching, there are many other sources that can be used to document effective teaching. Below is a list of sources that can be used in tandem to evaluate teaching effectiveness. 

SourceDescription and Resources
Peer observation

The instructor asks a colleague to observe one or more class sessions. Peer observation can be either formative in nature (focusing primarily on feedback and growth) or evaluative (focusing primarily on evaluating the effectiveness of the session and perhaps resulting in a summative letter from the observer).

Peer Observation of Teaching from SCU Faculty Development (includes an overview of a suggested process and examples of observation protocols)

Peer Observation of Teaching Guidelines from Yale-NUS College Center for Teaching and Learning, 2018 (comprehensive guide which includes an example of a summative observation letter)

Peer Review Guide for Online Teaching from Penn State
Syllabus review

The instructor asks a colleague to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the course syllabus using a predetermined set of criteria. Syllabus review can also be conducted as a self-assessment by the instructor.

Peer Review Checklist for Course Syllabus from the University of Toronto Center for Teaching Support and Innovation

Syllabus Review Guide for Equity-Minded Practice from the Center for Urban Education, 2017

Self-assessments provide a way for instructors to reflect on their practice and identify their strengths and areas for growth.

Faculty Self-Assessment Guide from the University of Oregon Teaching Engagement Program, 2016

Teaching Practices Inventory from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia
Direct and indirect measures of student learning

Measures of student learning seek to provide quantitative or qualitative evidence of student performance at a particular time point or student growth over time. Direct measures could include student pretests and posttests, while indirect measures could include student self-assessments of learning.

Measures of Learning from the Career Framework for University Teaching, 2020

Direct and Indirect Measures of Student Learning by Michele J. Hansen, Indiana University
Student feedback

Student feedback can take a variety of forms, including formal student evaluations of teaching conducted by the university (SETs) as well as informal surveys that the instructor uses to elicit feedback from students.

Translating Comments on Student Evaluations into the Language of Learning by Linda C. Hodges and Katherine Stanton, published in Innovative Higher Education, 2007.

Making Sense of Student Written Comments by Karron G. Lewis, published in New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2001.
Teaching portfolio

A teaching portfolio is a collection of various sources of evidence that has been assembled by the instructor. Within the portfolio, the instructor may also present written reflections, interpretations, and connections among the sources included.

The Teaching Portfolio by Matthew Kaplan, University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

Teaching Portfolios from the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Additional Resources

Linse, A. R. (2017). Interpreting and using student ratings data: Guidance for faculty serving as administrators and on evaluation committees. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 54, 94-106.

Reihman, G. (2004). Making sense of student evaluations. Lehigh University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.


Page author:
Dr. Rachel Stumpf, SCU Faculty Development Program Manager

Last updated:
August 6, 2020