Why Document Teaching Effectiveness:

"The University community believes that excellence in teaching and excellence in research go hand in hand, and as a matter of policy teaching and research are both essential duties of every faculty member. Promotion depends upon the demonstration of excellence in both areas.

The essential question in the evaluation of teaching is whether the candidate contributes in an effective, creative, and appropriate way to the teaching mission of the department. Attention should be paid to the varieties of demands placed on instructors and the range of teaching activities called for in various disciplines and at various levels. It is imperative that clear documentation of ability in teaching be included in all advancement and promotion cases. Incomplete advancement or promotion cases will be returned to the originating department. While no two cases will be alike, there are several recurring themes which may be addressed in the preparation of the teaching component and several useful techniques for verifying performance in these areas."

1987 Policy for Evaluation of Teaching (for Advancement and Promotion)

Sources and Methods for Documenting Teaching Effectiveness:

“Under no circumstances will a tenure commitment be made unless there is clear documentation of ability and diligence in the teaching role.” This statement from the University of California Academic Personnel Manual is a reminder of how important good teaching is at Berkeley. For an understanding of the kinds of evidence you should gather to demonstrate your proficiency in teaching, we suggest both the relevant part of the Personnel Manual as well as the Berkeley campus Policy for the Evaluation of Teaching (1987). Department Chairs and School/College Deans can draw on multiple forms of evidence in composing letters of recommendation in support of a promotion case. 

Traditionally, end of semester student course evaluations have been the primary focus for evaluations of teaching. To provide the broadest picture possible of your teaching, you may want to include other sources of information such as:

  • Student Evaluation (end-of-course) 
  • Peer Observation of Course Instruction
  • Teaching Statement/Statement of Teaching Philosophy. Some departments require these as part of your submission for merit and promotion cases. Whether or not you’re asked for such a statement, it’s to your benefit—and ultimately your students’ benefit—if you have attempted to articulate your philosophy. As with Teaching Portfolios/Dossiers, the Teaching Philosophy can take many different forms. For a wide variety of examples, we suggest reading through some of the statements from Distinguished Teaching Award recipients.
  • Instructional Improvement Efforts. You may want to include information on any of the following in your teaching portfolio: Grants you have received to improve one of your courses;
    • Peer observation by CTL consultant;
    • Videotape(s) of your teaching used to analyze your teaching;
    • Workshops or seminars attended related to teaching and instructional improvement;
    • Consultations with a CTL consultant on teaching issues;
    • Any concrete changes you’ve made to your courses as a result of these efforts.
  • Teaching Dossier. This compilation of materials gathers in one place information about your teaching (e.g., syllabus, exams, exercises, samples of graded student work). Whether or not you choose to include an entire dossier as part of your promotion case, the dossier can be an excellent way for you to personally reflect on your teaching.

    If you would like help, or have questions, about any of the sources and methods mentioned above, email teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail) with "Evaluating Your Course" in the subject line.

    How Can Instructors Encourage Students to Complete Course Evaluations and Provide Informative Responses?

    Instructors can influence response rates – perhaps more so than any other factor. When actively promoted and discussed with students, response rates are generally higher than those in courses with little to no Instructor attention paid to them. (Anderson et. al., 2006; Ballantyne, 2003; Johnson, 2002; Norris & Conn, 2005)

    Tips for encouraging students to both complete course evaluations and provide constructive feedback: (adapted from Univ. of Oregon Office of the Registrar - Course Evaluations(link is external))

    • Inform students about the purpose of evaluations: Let students know that you will use their feedback to make changes in the course, and give them some examples of how this has happened in the past. Students will be more likely to complete a course evaluation and provide high-quality feedback if they know they will be heard and comments considered.

    Timing suggestion: Early in the semester (first day of class); When the system opens at the end of the semester (Gaillard et. al., 2006; Marlin, 1987; Spencer and Schmelkin, 2002)

    • Explain how the University uses evaluation feedback: Many students do not realize that evaluations are looked at by department chairs, and by promotion and tenure committees campus-wide. Let them know that this data is valued, and used, by the University to make important personnel decisions as well as other decisions like teaching award nominations.

    Timing suggestion: Early in the semester (first day of class); When the system opens at the end of the semester

    • Demonstrate how YOU use evaluation feedback: Students consider the most important outcome of an evaluation to be improvement in teaching, and improvement in course content and format. Show them how you use evaluations to this end, and response rates and quality will likely increase.

    Timing suggestion: Any time in the semester you do something that reflects a change made based on student feedback (Chen and Hoshower, 2003)

    • Detail the kind of feedback that will be most helpful: Consider the type of feedback you want and any areas of the course on which you would like student feedback. Then ask students for it explicitly when you remind/discuss course evaluations with them. Did you create a new reader for the course this term? Did you change your pedagogical focus from content coverage to skill development? Speak to it in class and remind students that you invite their feedback (qualitative) particularly in these areas. It can also be helpful to inform students what makes qualitative feedback most helpful. While “This class was amazing” is a very positive remark, it’s not very helpful. Instead, offer some examples of helpful feedback you have received that allowed you to make informed decisions about how the course is taught (i.e., “The explanations in-class of textbook concepts made the content accessible for me. Without these clear explanations by the professor, I would have felt lost.”)

    Timing suggestion: When the system opens at the end of semester

    • Remind students early and often: Do not rely solely on the Course Evaluations system to send students reminders. Your reminders have the greatest impact on increasing response rates.

    Timing suggestion: Periodically throughout the system open period at the end of the semester (Norris & Conn, 2005)

    • Follow up with non-responders: After the Course Evaluations open for your class, you can check to see a daily report of response rates. If they are below what you desire, reach out to students via class discussion or even email to emphasize the value and importance of the feedback you will receive from the evaluations. Many non-responders may be unaware that the evaluation is available, and others may simply have forgotten. (Johnson, 2002)
    • Make it an assignment on your syllabus: Listing the Course Evaluation in the same category as the other course assignments, even if no points are at stake, may help raise response rates. (Johnson, 2002)
    • Hold their metaphorical hand: Taking a few minutes out of class to show students how to find and use the Course Evaluations system may increase response rates. While there are instructions to finding and completing the course evaluations in the system emails they receive, do not assume all students can navigate this easily. A quick, visual tutorial in-class can make a difference.

    Timing suggestion: When the system opens at the end of the semester (Dommeyer et al, 2004).

    What do you do as a UC Berkeley instructor to encourage students to complete end of term course evaluations? We’d love to hear and share those examples on this page! Email teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)with the subject line “Course Evaluations” and your example.


    Anderson, J., Brown, G. & Spaeth, S. (2006). Online student evaluations and response rates reconsidered. Innovate, 2(6). Retrieved from http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=301(link is external)

    Ballantyne, C.S. (2003). Online evaluations of teaching: An examination of current practice and considerations for the future. In D.L. Sorenson & T.D. Johnson (Eds.), New Directions for Teaching and Learning #96: Online students ratings of instruction (pp. 103-112). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Chen, Y. & Hoshower, L.B. 2003. Student evaluation of teaching effectiveness: An assessment of student perception and motivation. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(1): 71-88.

    Dommeyer, C. J., Baum, P., Hanna, R. W., & Chapman, K. (2004). Gathering faculty teaching evaluations by in-class and online surveys: Their effects on response rates and evaluations. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 29(5): 611-623.

    Gaillard, F., Mitchell, S, & Kavota, V. (2006). Students, Faculty, And Administrators’ perception of students’ evaluations of faculty in higher education business schools. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 3(8): 77-90.

    Johnson, T. (2002). Online student ratings: Will students respond? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, 2002. Retrieved fromhttp://www.armstrong.edu/images/institutional_research/onlinesurvey_will...(link is external)

    Marlin, J. (1987). Student perceptions of end-of-course evaluations. The Journal of Higher Education, 58(6): 704-716.

    Norris, J., & Conn, C. (2005). Investigating strategies for increasing student response rates to online-delivered course evaluations. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 6:13-29.

    Spencer, K. & Schmelkin, L. (2002). Student perspectives on teaching and its evaluation. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 27(5): 397-409.