Faculty may find the following ideas useful for enhancing teaching. Obviously, no one is expected to pursue all these suggestions; nevertheless, engaging in even one activity each semester will steadily improve teaching and learning over time.
Get Feedback on Teaching
- Use online student rating results to make course improvements.
- Collect mid-semester student feedback (e.g., surveys, focus groups).
- Use the CTL program, Student Consulting on Teaching (SCOT).
- Partner with peers to provide one another feedback.
- Analyze student assessment data to identify trends in student performance and problems to be remedied by changing teaching strategies, course content, and learning activities, etc.
Develop Instructional Skills and Materials
- Compare your course plan with someone teaching the same or a similar course.
- Share and discuss your teaching strategies and materials with another instructor.
- Improve the quality of your exams and other assessments (contact Bryan Bradley, a CTL consultant).
- Write an article for a professional teaching and learning improvement journal in your discipline, highlighting an innovative course design or approach to teaching, possibly in conjunction with a scholarship of teaching research project.
Improve Course/Program Design and Alignment
- Invite student feedback on the congruency of course objectives, activities, and assessments.
- Discuss with the department chair the alignment of course learning objectives with program goals and the Aims of a BYU Education.
- Share and discuss course learning objectives and materials with those teaching other courses in the same curriculum sequence.
- Discuss course improvement plans with appropriate curriculum committees or department chair.
Consult with CTL Professionals about Teaching and Learning Issues
- Designing a course.
- Integrating faith and intellect in BYU courses.
- Assessing student learning.
- Improving teaching strategies.
- Getting feedback on teaching.
- Working effectively with teaching assistants.
Learn More About Teaching and Enhancing Student Learning
- Subscribe to a publication on college teaching.
- Publications useful to any college teacher:
- National Teaching and Learning Forum (online version available through CTL)
- The Teaching Professor (current & archived issues available to BYU faculty/staff/students at http://ctl.byu.edu/teaching-professor)
- College Teaching
- Discipline-specific journals.
- Attend a teaching conference:
- Lilly Conferences: national and regional.
- Discipline-specific conferences.
- Read a book
- For newer faculty:
- Teaching Tips by Wilbert McKeachie
- Tools for Teaching by Barbara Davis
- For more experienced faculty:
- Creating Significant Learning Experiences by L. Dee Fink
- Thinking About Teaching and Learning by Robert Leamnson
- Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher by Stephen Brookfield
- Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn by Raymond Wlodkowski
- Improving College Teaching by Maryellen Weimer
- Learning and Motivation in the Postsecondary Classroom by Marilla Svinicki
- Search the Center for Teaching and Learning Website for information and resources to improve teaching and learning.
- For newer faculty:
Generated by the staff of the BYU Faculty Center and the BYU Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).
Toggle ItemWhy peer review?Quality teaching that enhances student learning is an important expectation of all faculty who teach at BYU. The University uses two primary evaluation tools to assess the quality of teaching: Student Ratings and Peer Review. Students are asked to provide feedback on the teaching/learning process from their perspective as learners. Peers are asked to assess teaching methods, materials, and outcomes from their perspective as teachers and members of an academic discipline.
There are two distinct purposes for peer review of teaching. The first is to provide formative (developmental) feedback to faculty members to help them improve their teaching. The second purpose is to provide a summative (accountability) evaluation for making personnel decisions (i.e., rank and status). The same criteria should be used for both formative and summative evaluations, even though the use of data is different. In both cases the evaluation criteria should be generally known and widely accepted within a department. (See Chism, Peer Review of Teaching, ch. 4)
Toggle ItemWhen should peer reviews be conducted?Summative peer reviews must be conducted in conjunction with the third- and sixth-year reviews for junior faculty. Within the context of the rank and advancement process, formative evaluations should help junior faculty improve their courses and prepare for summative evaluations. Therefore, they are most useful when conducted during the 1st or 2nd and the 4th or 5th years. It is recommended that a given peer review should not try to incorporate both formative and summative purposes.
Toggle ItemWho conducts peer reviews?Option A: If a department has organized a committee to conduct peer reviews (e.g., a Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Committee), then members of this committee could conduct both formative and summative reviews.
Option B: If a department does not use a standing committee for peer reviews, then a mentor could be assigned to conduct the formative review and an ad hoc group of faculty (2-3) could be assigned to conduct the summative review.
Toggle ItemHow should a summative peer review be conducted?Section 3.3.2 of the University Rank and Status Policy provides the following direction.
Peer evaluation is as important for teaching as it is for scholarship. The department review committee will obtain at least two substantive confidential peer evaluations of teaching from BYU faculty members qualified to make evaluations of the faculty member's approach to pedagogy, teaching activities and materials. The faculty member will assemble a teaching portfolio containing syllabi, textbooks, handouts, multimedia materials, assignments, learning exercises, examinations, and other course materials. The peer evaluations should concentrate on a review of the teaching portfolio, but should also include classroom visits. Ideally, the classroom visits should be conducted over several semesters prior to the faculty member's third- and sixth-year reviews. Peer evaluations might best assess such areas as:
- Whether the course reflects the current state of the discipline.
- The faculty member's mastery of the course content.
- The course objectives, including whether the course meets the objectives of the curriculum of which it is a part.
- The course organization.
- The methods used to foster and measure learning.
- The materials in the teaching portfolio (syllabi, textbooks, handouts, multimedia materials, assignments, learning exercises, examinations, and other course materials).
- The faculty member's general concern for and interest in teaching.
- The overall quality of teaching.
Toggle ItemWhat is the department chair's role?Facilitate ongoing conversations within the department regarding a) the importance of high quality teaching and learning, b) the value of peer review in facilitating continuous improvement (pre- and post-continuing status), and c) the appropriate criteria for guiding summative peer reviews.
- Make peer review assignments and provide reviewers with all information and tools necessary to properly complete their assignments.
- Ensure that the evaluation process is being conducted in a timely manner. A recommended timetable has been included in Appendix A.
- Check the peer review reports for completeness and include them in the candidate’s promotion file.
Toggle ItemWhat resource materials are available to guide the peer review process?To assist faculty members assigned to conduct peer reviews of teaching, the Faculty Center has prepared the following supplemental materials. These should be treated as suggestions/recommendations based on study of the relevant literature. The establishment of standards or expectations beyond those laid out in the rank and status policy is the purview of colleges and departments.
A copy of the following book should be available in every department. It is the best source book on this subject. It contains a wide range of practical suggestions as well as useful peer-review forms.
Peer Review of Teaching: A Sourcebook, Nancy Van Note Chism (Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company), 1999.
We also recommend the following articles available from the Faculty Center:
Report of University Committee for the Study of Peer Evaluation (1999). (Proposals from a faculty committee.)
Theall, Michael (2002). “Guidelines for Good Evaluation Practice.” Focus on Faculty, 10, 2-3 (part of “Student Ratings: Myth vs. Research Evidence”). (Discusses elements of a good evaluation system, especially how peer reviews and student ratings are complementary components of assessment.)
Sorenson, D. Lynn (1995). “Beware the N of One,” Focus on Faculty, 3, 6. (This short article warns of the danger of using oneself (an “n of one”) as the measure of good teaching when observing colleagues’ classes. The article also summarizes current research benchmarks of effective teaching as better criteria than the “n of one.”)
Cunningham, Michael (2001). “Observations Beyond the Lecture: New Learning Models Require New Evaluation Methods.” Teaching Professor, 15, 6. (Generally insightful suggestions)
Toggle ItemAre there peer review tools we can use?Experience has shown that the systematic application of standardized criteria significantly enhances the quality of a peer review process. To stimulate conversations within departments regarding the evaluation criteria and methods, the Faculty Center has provided some sample evaluation tools in Appendix B. You can access the appendices by clicking and downloading the document from the cover photo at the top of the page. Included in these materials are review forms to help assess a) course design and b) classroom instruction.
Toggle ItemWhat should be included in the summative peer review report?The rank and status policy stipulates that a candidate’s teaching portfolio need not be included in the materials sent forward to the college and university rank and advancement committees. Higher levels of the review process will rely on a thorough and comprehensive peer review report provided by the department. In light of this expectation, a recommended outline for this report is shown in Appendix C.