NC State
Professional Writing Resources

Evaluation of teaching

General Approach

Because the evaluation of teaching is at best an imperfect art, it is important for evaluators to have as many sources of information as possible. The most common ones are classroom observations by an experienced teacher, formal student evaluations (both are mandated by the NCSU Teacher Evaluation Policy; see the NCSU Faculty Handbook, Appendix C), and the teacher’s own portfolio of teaching materials. Other sources can include informal student comments and evidence of specific student achievements.

Evaluation of teaching has two purposes: formative(for the improvement of the teacher’s performance) and summative (for decisions on merit and retention).


Formative Evaluation

Evaluation aimed at improvement can best be conducted by the teacher, with the assistance of colleagues and the support of the Program and Department. It is essentially self-evaluation for professional development. All the methods discussed below as part of summative evaluation can help the teacher develop, but other means can significantly contribute to a teacher’s development: teacher-research, attendance at relevant professional conferences and workshops, participation in staff development activities within the department, participation on relevant departmental committees. In addition, several more specific methods are available:

  • Informal classroom observations by and of other teachers with ensuing discussions of teaching strategies and techniques
  • Sharing of teaching materials
  • Videotaping of class sessions, with self- or peer-critique
  • The Small-Group Instructional Diagnosis (mid-semester assessment)

Small-Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID): Part of improving the quality of teaching is analyzing the process to see what is going well and what needs adjustment. Conducting an SGID is a good way to gather information so that you can make course adjustments to benefit the current semester’s students. An SGID consists of an impartial moderator coming to your class when you are not present and asking the students to arrive at consensus responses to the following two questions and a third question of your choice:

  1. What three elements of this course enable you to learn?
  2. What three elements of the course could be improved?

The results are then discussed between you and the moderator. The results are not reported to anyone else.

During the class immediately following the moderator’s visit, you should discuss the results with your students and make any suitable and feasible adjustments.


Summative Evaluation

Summative evaluation in the Department of English is done by the respective program directors (for TAs), by Senior Faculty(for lecturers and assistant professors), and by the Executive Committee(for associate and full professors). Summative evaluations are used for decisions on retention, promotion, merit pay, and teaching awards.

The Professional Writing Committee believes it essential that summative evaluation be guided by the goals and policies established for the professional writing courses. Teachers should be accountable to the formal course goals, syllabus and assignment guidelines, and the textbook policies for these courses. Thus, such evaluation should be done primarily by faculty familiar with these courses. In the Department of English, summative evaluation involves a review of the following sources of information, discussed below:

  • Classroom observation reports
  • Teaching portfolios
  • Students’ evaluations

Classroom Observations

The Process: English Department policy requires one observation in a lecturer’s first year and within a year of any decision on retention beyond five years. Teaching assistants are observed every year. Lecturer I’s are observed every two years. Lecturer II’s are observed every three years. Senior Lecturers are observed every four years. Untenured assistant and associate professors are also observed during each of the first two years, and assistant professors a third time within a year of the tenure decision. The Director of Professional Writing may request additional observations.

Scheduling of observations in professional writing classes is done within the first few weeks of the semester by the Director of Professional Writing. After an observer has been assigned, the teacher should contact the observer to initiate the process and suggest appropriate days for the observer to visit. The teacher should provide a copy of the course syllabus and assignment sheets and handouts relevant to the class session to be observed. Before the class, the two should meet to discuss the teacher’s goals and strategies for the session. Copies of graded papers should be supplied at a mutually convenient time, not necessarily tied to the particular class session that has been observed.

After the observer has written a draft report of the observation, the two should meet again to discuss the draft and both the observer’s and the teacher’s perceptions of the class session. The draft may be revised on the basis of this discussion. The final report should be signed and dated by both with copies given to the teacher and to the Department Head for the teacher’s personnel file.

The Report: It is helpful to separate the report of the observation into two sections, one primarily descriptive and one primarily evaluative.

  • The descriptive section can include statements about the topic of the class, its place in the course as a whole, the classroom presence of the teacher, the behavior and participation of students, the teacher’s interaction with students, use of handouts and visual aids, the overall organization of the class session, and the ways in which that organization and its relationship to the syllabus as a whole are made apparent to students.
  • The evaluative section should consider the appropriateness of the methods used to achieve the goals, the appropriateness of the goals themselves, the effects of both goals and methods on students, the relationship between what students are told and what they do.

The discussion of the graded papers should describe the nature of the assignment and its objectives (or attach a copy of the assignment and/or criteria) and indicate whether multiple drafts were involved. Evaluation of the comments and grades should consider the nature of the comments and their relevance to the goals of the assignment and the nature of the course, the relationship between the comments and the grade, the relationship between local and global comments.

The report may conclude with suggestions to the teacher for specific strategies for improvement. It should generally assess how well the teacher is complying with course requirements and policies.

Teaching Portfolio

Keep a teaching portfolio containing copies of your syllabi, course descriptions, assignments, a complete set of graded papers or exams, and other materials that you consider germane to your performance in particular classes. This portfolio will be submitted to the Head of the Department, and reviewed by the Senior Faculty (tenured associate and full professors)at the time of annual reviews and decisions on reappointment.

The English Department requires a teaching portfolio to include the following material for each course the instructor teaches:

  • course syllabus
  • assignment sheets for major assignments
  • any criteria or grading sheets for those assignments texts or exams, if any
  • other important handouts, or a copy of a coursepack
  • a representative set of graded papers

The portfolio may also include the following at the instructor’s discretion:

  • statement of teaching philosophy
  • a self-evaluation of teaching performance for particular courses or semesters
  • a videotaped class session
  • testimonial letters from students

Students’ Evaluations

At the end of every semester or summer session, the NC State Office of Institutional Research and Planning (OIRP) distributes class eval surveys to your students. Please encourage your students to complete the surveys, perhaps setting aside class time for them to do so. With higher response rates, the class eval data offers a more complete and reliable picture of your students’ classroom experience. During the class eval period, you can check on your sections’ response rates at the ClassEval Dashboard. Class eval data will be available to you within a few weeks of the grade submission deadline.