June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Educational Research and Methods
11.602.1 - 11.602.20
Evaluating Methods to Improve Teaching in Engineering Abstract
Engineering faculty at a large research institution participated in a project for evaluating methods to improve teaching. Faculty were randomly assigned to one of four separate cohorts (each receiving a different type of feedback designed to improve teaching) and comparative data was collected on each of the four methods. Faculty in Cohort 0: Control served as the control population and did not receive formal feedback of any kind to improve teaching. Faculty in Cohort 1: Ratings Report received a report summarizing student ratings of teaching at midterm. For faculty in Cohort 2: Feedback and Consult, an instructional consultant facilitated a student feedback session at midterm (also known as a small group instructional diagnosis) and then conducted a follow-up consultation with the faculty member. An instructional consultant videotaped a class period for faculty in Cohort 3: Videotape and Consult and conducted a follow-up consultation.
To compare the four methods to improve teaching, data from three separate sources was analyzed. First, student ratings of teaching were collected in the middle of the academic term and again at the end of the term. The ratings were studied and the change in average ratings from the middle to the end of the term was compared to assess the level of teaching improvement. Second, all faculty completed an online survey to assess the method to improve teaching they completed, to rate their own teaching at the end of the term, and to describe their perceptions of the project. Faculty responses were analyzed and compared by cohort. Finally, a focus group for the instructional consultants was conducted to gauge their perceptions of each method, to ascertain the nature of the consultations, and to identify kinds of issues that arose in each consultationi.
From this limited study, it appears that the student feedback and follow-up consultation may have the most positive impact on student ratings of teaching. However, having a class session videotaped and then having a follow-up consultation is also a promising method to improve teaching. Further work to study these methods more clearly is underway.
1. Experimental Design
Faculty teaching full-term, undergraduate, lecture courses in all engineering departments were invited to participate in the projectii. Those who participated were asked to follow a specific protocol for gathering feedback to improve teaching. Then, to evaluate teaching improvement, data was collected and analyzed from three separate sources. Both the protocols for gathering feedback to improve teaching and the methods for evaluating teaching improvement are described in this section.
1.1. Methods to improve teaching
After faculty recruiting was complete, participants were randomly assigned to one of four cohorts (Cohort 0: Control; Cohort 1: Ratings Report; Cohort 2: Feedback and Consult; and Cohort 3: Videotape and Consult). Depending on their cohort assignment, faculty were asked to follow a specific protocol for gathering feedback to improve teaching (described in Table 1).
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