Research-based info on RI departments that value teaching

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Mary Wright, Ph.D. (Assistant Research Scientist and Assistant Director, Evaluation, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) University of Michigan) recently summarized for the POD Listserv, some of the findings of her research on the value of teaching in research university departments (see Always at Odds? SUNY Press, 2008).  She compared departments where faculty reported that they and their departments valued teaching to those where faculty reported their departments did not.  The departments are all science and health science departments where the reward system favored research.  

She notes that in departments with a shared value of teaching:

(1) Teaching and curricular work was dispersed throughout the department and faculty generally shared responsibility for teaching introductory and service courses & doing curricular and assessment work.

(2) Faculty had opportunities to observe each other's teaching through formal peer review, as well as other team teaching and informal drop-ins.

(3) Discussion of teaching was frequent and widespread.  In particular, Chairs tried to make teaching discussions an everyday occurrence, including reaching out to faculty to talk about teaching. 

(4) There were multiple ways to assess teaching effectiveness and student learning.  In contrast, incongruent departments tended to focus solely on student ratings, and since many faculty dismissed these, this left a void.

(5) They had detailed tenure and promotion policies and procedures around teaching, and these policies were frequently clarified by administrators.


(6) Chairs carefully chose a few time-consuming, but highly meaningful events that resonated with their faculty and involved a personal commitment to teaching on the part of the chair. For example, one chair taught (and taught really well) every year - a rarity in a large research university science department. Faculty noticed.

I wonder if we would see similar characteristics in Penn State's departments?

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