Evaluation and Assessment

Gili Marbach-Ad, CMNS Teaching and Learning Center, University of Maryland-College Park

We use Colbeck's model for evaluating professional development programs to improve teaching and learning. This includes the following five levels of evaluation.

1. Participation
We maintain detailed records of all TLC program activities to understand who participates in these activities, their motivation for participating, and the types of activities in which they participate. We probe how participants learn about our activities, who participate in our initiatives, and why they decide to participate. For example, between 2007 and 2013, 77% of the faculty members in the departments we serve attended at least one TLC professional development activity. We disaggregate attendance along different dimensions to explore differences by affiliation, rank, and other variables. These results help us to balance our activities to accommodate all groups in our college.

2. Satisfaction
An example for this level of evaluation is an end-of-semester evaluation for the mandatory Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching prep course sponsored by the TLC. We queried about which topics were rated by GTAs as most useful. Based on this survey, we changed some of the topics in the next iteration of the course and improved the presentation of other topics that were perceived as not useful.

3. Learning
In this level of evaluation, we measure knowledge related to specific professional development activities. For example, after a workshop on blended learning, we may ask if participants improved their understanding of what constitutes blended learning and different ways in which blended learning can be implemented. We also use periodic surveys that ask faculty members, graduate students and undergraduates to rate the importance of various teaching practices (e.g., group work, inquiry-based learning, and scientific writing) and educational goals (e.g., the ability to work effectively in groups, understanding the dynamic nature of science, and problem-solving capacity).

4. Application
In this level, we assess the degree to which faculty members and graduate students use evidence-based teaching practices in classrooms. We have three means of measuring this:

  • Faculty self-reports of the teaching practices they used (via periodical surveys)
  • Student reports of teaching practices they experienced (via an exit survey of graduating seniors)
  • Classroom observations
These mechanisms provide complementary evaluative information that assists us in understanding the impact of specific interventions and allows us to document broader patterns of institutional change.

5. Impact
In this level we are trying to measure if we have reached our ultimate goal – improving the learning experience of undergraduates and better preparing them for their future careers. We measure this in multiple ways, including undergraduates' end-of-semester course evaluations, attitudes and satisfaction surveys, and course grades.


Center Profile: CMNS Teaching and Learning Center - University of Maryland-College Park