The following is a statement from the Association of American Universities on the campuses selected to host five demonstration projects on STEM teaching evaluation:
The Association of American Universities has selected five science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments at America’s leading research universities to host demonstration projects in the evaluation of undergraduate teaching. The departments will receive $100,000 awards to create better models for effective and equitable evaluation of STEM teaching; the models could then be adapted to STEM departments at other undergraduate institutions.
“At AAU we are working to improve undergraduate STEM education, improving scientific understanding for all students regardless of their future career paths and helping America produce more – and more diverse – candidates for graduate STEM programs,” said AAU President Barbara R. Snyder. “Creating more equitable and effective ways to evaluate excellent teaching will support that goal, and we are excited to see what promising innovations to the faculty rewards structure these awards help advance.”
The demonstration projects are made possible by a $570,000 gift to AAU from the Sarah Gilbert & Carl Wieman Charitable Fund. “Each of these projects is bringing energy, innovation, and a great deal of thought to tackling one of the great challenges in higher education,” Carl Wieman said. “Nearly every university recognizes the quality of its teaching could be improved but also that it does not have an adequate system for measuring and incentivizing that improvement. I am optimistic that these departments will provide models that will provide this missing link for all colleges and universities. This will allow higher education to reach a new and higher level in educating all students.”
The teaching evaluation demonstration projects are an effort of the AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative, which was established in 2011 to influence the culture of STEM departments at research universities so that faculty members are encouraged to use teaching practices proven to maximize student engagement in STEM and support student learning.
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.
The awards will go to the departments of Engineering Sciences at Dartmouth College; Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Kansas; Chemistry at Michigan State University; Biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and Chemistry at the University of Southern California.
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