To enhance the value and visibility of teaching-focused discourse on the Berkeley campus, CTL and the Senate Committee on Teaching presents Dialogues. 

2016-2017 Dialogues Focus on Teaching Evaluations and Feedback Mechanisms

The 2016-17 Dialogues colloquium series has now concluded.  Its focus was "Teaching Evaluations and Feedback Mechanisms"The 2016-17 faculty curators were:  Claire Kremen, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management; John Wallace, East Asian Languages and Cultures; Oliver O'Reilly, Mechanical Engineering and Chair of the Committee on Teaching.

Review of 2016-17 Discussions

Dialogue 1: "De-mystifying Faculty Teaching Evaluation to Improve Pedagogy and Practices"  

Janet Broughton (Philosophy, Vice Provost for the Faculty 2011-2016) and Martin Jay (History, Former Member of the Academic Senate's Budget & Interdepartmental Relations Committee) shared their insights concerning how to foster innovative teaching that is recognized and rewarded from a University perspective. Janet Broughton provided the folllowing information based on the discussion: 

General information about faculty review policies and processes​.  This is the link to the home page of BMAP (Berkeley Manual of Academic Personnel).  Although this site focuses on ladder faculty, I think all faculty will find points of interest here too.
Teaching records and their assessment.  This page in BMAP summarizes the range of activities that fall under the general rubric of "teaching," and it provides information about the assessment of teaching.  From this page, readers can follow links to the policy statements I mentioned yesterday, and they can also find policies about assessing graduate mentoring and about two ways to reward exceptional teaching records.

Rates of advancement.  We talked a little about how strong or weak teaching records might affect the rate at which faculty members move up the rank/step "ladder."  There's more about the general topic of advancement rates here, along with links to several policies.

Sample merit letter.  The link to this is near the bottom of this page.  (I see that we now have a new fictional faculty member described in the sample letter, so the current sample is a little different from what I described yesterday.)  

​Janet also stressed the following: "Faculty members should not fear they will be disadvantaged in the review process for having tried something new that didn't quite turn out as they hoped it would.​  This is an experience that I suspect many of us have had at one time or another, and if it is your experience, I recommend that you try writing a self-statement that answers such questions as these:  What did you hope to achieve with the innovation you tried?  In what ways did the innovation succeed or fall short?  What do you think the reasons are for the overall outcome of the innovation you tried?  What might you do differently next time?"

Dialogue 2: "Maximizing Innovative Teaching While Minimizing Student Evaluation Risk"

Lisa Pruitt (Mechanical Engineering) and Michelle Douskey (Chemistry) kicked off the discussion resulting in the following key points:

  • There may be a lot of preconceived notions among your students about new methods of teaching and learning.  Share your goals with students regarding why you are doing an activity or course in a particular way.  Include examples from literature that supports the strategy being used.

  • Innovate in a way that is natural to you.  You have to be authentic and comfortable with it.

  • Don’t be too concerned that the new strategy isn’t perfect the first time you use it.  Take notes and adjust next time.  It may take 2-3 semesters for the activity to work the way you would like.

  • Provide key takeaways to students at the end of the class so that they can more easily see what they’ve learned during the session.

  • Evaluate the innovation at mid-semester or even shortly before so that students can voice their opinions and you have an opportunity to modify the approach to better serve their needs.  Be sure to communicate your response to the evaluation comments to students.  Let them know what and how the course will be changing.

Dialogue 3: "Engaging Students in Peer Feedback"

Claire Kremen (Environmental Science, Policy and Management) began the discussion by sharing the strategies and activities she uses to incorporate student to student feedback in her courses (see her presentation linked below).  In addition a student panel from Engineering (James LaChance, Katie Decker and Elise Chrisine Lim) shared their insights on what works and what doesn't where peer-to-peer feedback is concerned.  Key points from the panel were:

  • They are glad to get the feedback from their peers and like it because they can't "check out" of the activitiy.
  • Peer feedback keeps them accountable to one another in team activities.
  • It would be nice to have stages of peer review instead of just receiving feedback at the end.
  • Structured and specific feedback forms, including self-evaluation were most helpful.
  • It's important for students to understand that peer evaluaiton is for support and not that they are being judged.

Review powerpoint


Dialogue 4: "Faculty-Student Feedback: End-of-Semester Teaching Evaluations"

Philip Stark (Statistics) discussed a broad range of topics related to end-of-semester teaching evaluations that included  the value of student feedback in determining effective teaching, various correlations and biases related to SETS, and the UCB Department of Statistics policy regarding evaluating teaching effectiveness based.  His full presentation is available here.