Why assess teaching?
Without teaching assessments, it is not really possible to know whether students are learning or not. Instructors, who assume that students are learning just because they were present during a lecture, are often disappointed when they grade exams, assignments, and papers and see evidence to the contrary. Too often there are substantial gaps between what was taught and what was learned. Unfortunately, not noticing these gaps until students complete exams or turn in final products often means it is too late to remedy problems. Teaching assessments allow you to monitor student learning and make necessary adjustments to improve your teaching.
The regular assessment of teaching also helps to improve the instruction itself. For example, knowing the learning styles of students can help you tailor instruction to fit their needs. Similarly, teaching assessments can help determine which instructional approaches are working and which are not.
Teaching assessments also help you to avoid surprises in end-of-course evaluations. Assessing student satisfaction with course organization, exams, assignments, and instruction throughout the term allows for mid-course adjustments and the improvement of student satisfaction. Using knowledge about student likes and dislikes helps you to design instruction in a way that motivates them to become more engaged in the course and the learning process.
To maximize the benefit of teaching assessments, you should plan your assessment strategy as you plan your instruction.
Benefits of assessment
- Sharpens instructional focus by monitoring whether you're meeting learning objectives.
- Identifies instructional challenges.
- Improves instruction by identifying what adjustments in teaching practices are needed.
- Makes teaching practices more systematic.
- Tailors instruction to students' needs.
- Improves students' learning.