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Case Study: Teaching Quality Framework

One of the barriers to including information about teaching in tenure and promotion decisions is the lack of a scholarly approach to teaching evaluation. The University of Colorado Boulder is developing a Teaching Quality Framework (TQF) to address this shortcoming and provide a common campus-wide framework for evaluating teaching quality that is contextualized to and enacted within varying disciplines, units, and roles. The TQF effort will empower and support departments to define the multiple measures that specify teaching quality in a way that is evidence-based, draws from leading scholarship on educational practices and evaluations, and is relevant to individual domains. The goal of the framework is both to provide better mechanisms for assessing teaching quality for merit, tenure, and promotion and to support improved teaching by providing faculty members with feedback that they can use to improve as educators.

The TQF defines a professional approach to teaching as including: clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, and reflective critique. These form the assessment categories for the framework, which are the same across all departments. However, interpretation of these categories and their relative weights are defined at the departmental level. Within each category, quality of teaching is assessed using three standard sources: the faculty member, students, and peers.
Implementing the TQF follows an opt-in model, with pilot departments choosing to engage and become leaders in this process. Two layers of action advance this initiative. First, departmentally based TQF Teams consist of three to six participants per department, who meet regularly and approach their work using a Departmental Action Team model (see separate call-out box). These teams contextualize the elements of the framework in their discipline and decide what is required for implementation in their department. Second, a campus-wide TQF Taskforce includes a broad set of participants (departmental representatives, deans, and other key stakeholders) who incorporate changes into the overall framework and communicate among departmental teams and other stakeholders. Key to the program’s success is a facilitator of the multiple departmental TQF teams who also serves as a communication channel between those teams and the campus taskforce. 

To date, nine departments are committed to the process. These departments include humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. An additional four departments have expressed interest. A campus-wide community has met each semester to discuss the TQF process and the resources to support its continuing implementation.