CETL—Classroom Assessment

What is a classroom assessment?

A classroom assessment entails inviting someone—a CETL staff member or a colleague from your department or elsewhere in the College—to sit in on your lectures to provide you with constructive feedback about your teaching. Its aim is not to replace student evaluations, but rather to provide an alternative perspective on your teaching.

Classroom assessments are also completely confidential—we will only release the observations and report to you. Subsequently, it is up to you whether or not you would like to share it with your department chair (or anyone else).

Who might be interested in a classroom assessment?

  • Pre-tenure faculty interested in getting feedback for their tenure applications
  • Faculty who are interested in getting an outsider's take on their teaching
  • Anyone else who feels that such an evaluation might benefit their teaching practice

Why should I have a classroom assessment undertaken? What's in it for me?

  • To gain professional and collegial input into the teaching and learning that is happening in your classroom
  • To encourage conversations about good practice in college-level teaching: what works, what does not, what could be done differently (and how)
  • To provide both reviewer and reviewee with deeper pedagogical insights than student evaluations alone

How to get started

  • Requesting a classroom observation through CETL: contact Jenny Hadingham. She will do a pre-observation briefing with you, during which the goals of the evaluation and the specific aspects of the classroom practice that you would like evaluated are discussed. For more detail on the specifics of the process, from beginning to end, click here.
  • Choosing a fellow faculty member as your reviewer: Naturally, choosing a colleague to review your teaching should be done thoughtfully. You would want to begin by thinking of colleagues who would offer supportive and constructive feedback. Beyond that, you might also find the following to be helpful in making a choice:

If the principle criterion for the evaluation is subject expertise, ask someone who has specific subject knowledge of the content area that you are teaching. By implication, you should actively exclude anyone whom you know will say only positive things about your teaching (although a subject expert might do that too!). Similarly, do not be tempted to undertake a review for a close friend in the department unless you are a subject specialist in what they teach.

However, if the principle criterion for your peer evaluation is good pedagogy (i.e., good teaching practice), you may wish to ask a colleague who has won a teaching award or simply someone whose teaching you respect.

A third option is to have one of each: a subject specialist and a teaching and learning expert. This pair could either write a joint or an individual report.

The process itself is described in more depth here.