The Office of the Dean of the College (ODOC) has begun to reimagine and redesign our process for evaluating teaching, one that is more holistic, transparent, and reflective of the numerous ways excellent teaching happens. Working with the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) we have developed resources, drawn from evidence-based practices, that will support the articulation and assessment of our teaching values and practices. In what follows, we outline why we undertook this initiative, how we approached the key questions, and what we propose as next steps.
Where We Began
A Guiding Question
Approximately a year ago, we started a conversation about interactions with faculty throughout the College who were raising questions about and/or asking for help with processes for evaluating teaching. Since then, we have been talking with faculty, consulting best practices in the field, and examining the various practices within the College to answer a basic question: do our practices for assessing teaching reflect our expectations of high-quality teaching and our commitment to fair, transparent, and consistent evaluation practices for all faculty?
What We Learned
A Deep Commitment and Troubling Practices
Two points have become clear in our efforts to answer that question. Wake Forest College faculty care deeply about teaching and want to support, improve, and reward it fairly and consistently. But our current practices are not always yielding the fair, formative, and fulsome assessments of teaching that we want. Faculty are well-intentioned in identifying and encouraging good teaching; even so, good intentions alone will not prevent some of the inequities and disparities we have come to recognize.
What We Concluded
A Problem Statement and A Charge
The current methods of assessing teaching, because they are so varied across departments, lend themselves to inequities, inefficiencies, and limited usefulness as formative feedback. Wake Forest College needs to develop a shared, adaptive, robust model for the assessment of teaching.
Where We Are Now
A Process in Draft Form and a Plan for Discussing It
We have designed a comprehensive, standardized, flexible, evidence-informed, efficient, clear, and aspirational assessment process to address the challenges and meet our needs for a holistic review and evaluation of teaching across the College. Throughout the Spring 2023 semester, we will share our model and host a series of conversations to hear faculty questions and suggestions.
What Comes Later
A Proposal and a Request to Endorse
After what we hope will be a rich set of conversations with an abundance of thoughtful feedback, in May 2023 we will finalize and present our recommendation to the College faculty for a vote on faculty endorsement.
Where We End Up
A Recommendation to the Dean
On July 1, 2023, we will submit our model, “A Recommendation for the Holistic Assessment of Teaching Across Wake Forest College,” for adoption by the Dean of the College. We fully understand that the faculty may choose to endorse the recommendation in whole, in part, or not at all; furthermore, the Dean of the College retains the authority to take up the recommendation in whole, in part, or not at all. Those are future decisions, however. For now, we are very hopeful that this semester’s conversations will foster broad support for a shared and adaptive system of assessment that emphasizes and supports the teaching excellence integral to the Wake Forest Teacher-Scholar model.