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AAU to Launch STEM Department Demonstration Projects on Teaching Evaluation

The Association of American Universities (AAU) has received a $570,000 gift from the Sarah Gilbert & Carl Wieman Charitable Fund to find better methods for teaching evaluation in university undergraduate STEM departments.

As part of its Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative, AAU will advance a new program to select and grant five departments at its member universities with $100,000 awards for teaching evaluation demonstration projects. The grants will support department-level development, implementation, assessment, and dissemination of more effective methods for evaluating undergraduate STEM teaching.

“The shortcomings of current methods of evaluating teaching are widely recognized and are the greatest barrier to the adoption of better teaching methods, such as those being supported by the AAU STEM Initiative,” said Carl Wieman, who is the Cheriton Family Professor and Professor of Physics and of Education at Stanford University. “I am happy to be able to help the AAU address this critical step in improving education for all students.”

Currently, the assessment of teaching in higher education is dominated by student evaluations, which studies have shown do not correlate with the quality of student learning or with the use of more effective teaching methods. While experts widely recognize problems with existing systems for teaching evaluation, there are few demonstrations of better alternatives. The goal of this new AAU program will be to create, demonstrate, and disseminate better models for STEM departments to evaluate effective and equitable teaching that could be implemented at other AAU institutions and elsewhere.

“Demonstrating more effective methods for evaluating teaching will encourage universities to adopt more evidence-based educational practices,” said AAU President Barbara R. Snyder. “We are deeply grateful to the Sarah Gilbert & Carl Wieman Charitable Fund for agreeing to partner with us to advance the cause of more effective classroom teaching at the undergraduate level.”

Founded in 1900, the Association of American Universities is composed of America’s leading research universities. AAU’s 65 research universities transform lives through education, research, and innovation.

Our member universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research that improves public health, seeks to address national challenges, and contributes significantly to our economic strength, while educating and training tomorrow’s visionary leaders and innovators.

AAU member universities collectively help shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation; promote best practices in undergraduate and graduate education; and strengthen the contributions of leading research universities to American society.

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