University Committee on Teaching Evaluations

It is critically important that our tenure and promotion process be as fair as possible, and therefore, our evaluation of teaching must be as well. Research has demonstrated bias based on gender and race in student evaluations. Variation across departmental instruments can also cause inequities. The Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the President concerning cases of undergraduate tenure and promotion, has encouraged us to consider whether we should standardize teaching evaluation and how best to mitigate bias. These issues are also raised in the Faculty Antiracist Plan of Action.

President Dudley has asked that we create an ad hoc committee to study best practices with respect to teaching evaluation and to bring recommendations to the faculty for improving our processes.

Questions to be addressed include:

  • What should the elements of teaching evaluations for tenure and promotion be?
  • Should there be a standardized student course evaluation? If so, what form should it take?
  • Should there be a standardized class observation process?
  • How do peer schools conduct teaching evaluation and what can we learn from them?
  • What can we learn from the different ways our departments currently conduct teaching evaluation?

Committee membership:

From among the full-time University Faculty, members will be elected as follows:

  • two College faculty members from different departments, elected by the faculty in the College;
  • two Williams School faculty members from different departments, elected by the faculty in the Williams School; and
  • two Law faculty members elected by faculty in the Law School

Following the election, four undergraduate faculty members will be appointed by the Faculty Executive Committee to insure the committee is representative and diverse. No more than one member of the committee may come from any undergraduate department, and two of the undergraduate members must have served at least one year on the Advisory Committee since Fall 2017.

Charge

Study best practices with respect to teaching evaluation. Discuss recommendations for improving our processes with the Provost prior to sending them forward. On the undergraduate side, the committee's final recommendations should go to the FEC which will bring any formal proposal to the undergraduate faculty. On the law side, any recommendations will go to the law faculty for consideration.