Factors that Encourage Teaching Improvement
The Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching works collaboratively with individuals and units across the university to foster and sustain a culture that practices, values, and rewards university teaching and learning as vital forms of scholarship.
To that end, the Center offers a variety of individual consultation services, all of which are aimed at promoting deeper understanding of students’ learning and the teaching that leads to that learning.
Below are some characteristics of the instructor and consulting process that will most likely lead to progress when a person works with the Center for Teaching:
- The instructor is interested and willing to change.
- The instructor has support from the department.
- There is an adequate amount of time to work on making modifications to the instructor’s teaching strategies. Often, a couple of semesters are necessary to see significant change.
- The instructor has clear goals, guidelines and evaluation criteria, based on feedback from the department and school.
Substantive changes take time, and there are sometimes situations in which the CFT may not be able to facilitate that change. For example, if the situation and not the person’s teaching is the problem, change may not happen. Some examples of these kinds of situations are:
- having very large classes and no or few TAs or other administrative support
- finding room conditions that hinder rather than facilitate teaching
- receiving a teaching assignment right before classes begin
- teaching a class that is not in the instructor’s area of expertise
- being spread too thin with other responsibilities (committee service, research, etc.)
- health / family / personal problems
Teaching well requires a substantial time commitment. When major factors inhibit instructors from spending substantive time on teaching preparation and execution, it is very difficult for them to receive strong evaluations from students or their peers.
Adapted from materials created by the Center for Teaching Effectiveness, University of Texas at Austin