Evaluate and Reward Teaching
This page was written by Kelsey Bitting (Dept. of Geology, University of Kansas) and Geoff Cook (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego), drawing on discussions and contributions from the 2014 Getting the Most Out of your Introductory Courses workshop.
Evaluate All Teaching
Evaluating teaching is a critical component of working with teaching assistants. Effective evaluation with feedback promotes:
- Reflective practice in day-to-day TA-student interactions
- Improvements in teaching practice and student learning outcomes
- A record of improvement that TAs can emphasize in teaching portfolios
- A means of documenting excellent performance
Classroom practice or environment, teaching materials developed by the TA, and even grading comments or notes given to the students can all be meaningful artifacts for teaching evaluation and feedback. When evaluating your TAs, consider the following ideas:
- Develop a rubric of characteristics of effective teaching and other professional behaviors. Share this rubric with the TAs at the beginning of the term.
- Recommend or require TAs to perform self- or peer-evaluations using to the rubric prior to the TA being assessed by a faculty member. Ask TAs to target specific areas for improvement and remind them that feedback should be constructive.
- Provide formative assessment of TA performance, which allows them to make changes to their teaching within the same term.
- Remember to reinforce good behaviors in addition to recommending concrete, specific advice for improvement.
Reward Excellent Teaching
Departments and faculty that devote time, effort, and other resources to rewarding excellent teaching send a strong message to TAs that their efforts are valuable to the department and to the learning experience of their students, and these efforts are worthy of public recognition. Awards may be internal to the department, or may be nominations to awards offered by the university or disciplinary societies. Internal teaching or TA awards help to change or reinforce department culture and values, while national society awards carry additional prestige for their winners.
Relatively simple gestures, such as publicly offering positive letters of recommendation to your best TAs can reinforce the value of good teaching and professionalism as a TA.
Examples of internal teaching assistant awards
- Stanford University's Centennial Teaching Assistant Awards program
- University of South Florida's Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards
External awards for teaching assistants
- NAGT Outstanding TA Award, available to both undergraduate and graduate TAs
- AAPT Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, specifically for Physics