Need criteria for innovative teaching

David W. Kramer kramer.8 at OSU.EDU
Fri Oct 15 09:22:40 EST 1999


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You wrote (edited):
>I serve on my university's Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness Committee,
>and we are discussing the idea of developing an award to recognize faculty
>who are successful at implementing innovative teaching strategies in their
>courses.  We are now seeking to develop criteria by which nominees for the
>award can be evaluated.  The committee thought that it would be a good idea
>to solicit information about criteria that are used by other institutions
>or organizations that give out such awards.

What a great idea!  We do not have such an award here but I'm going to
suggest it.  "Innovative teaching strategies" will be VERY diverse.  I
would encourage you to avoid narrow definitions in seeking nominations.  It
will be extremely valuable to the institution just to learn what is going
on in the classrooms!  (Yes, I actually said that!)  I mean, of course,
that there are many wonderful strategies in college classrooms that most of
us never know about because we each "do our own thing" and only the most
highly technical ($$$) or outrageous experiments are widely known.

The problem will come with the evaluation of such a mixed bag.  Here are
some criteria by which even a rich diversity might be judged.  You'll have
to design the "nomination form" so that the selection committee will get
information about each of these points.  Another approach would be to keep
the nomination form very simple so that students and faculty without all
the detailed knowledge might participate in the nomination process.  Then,
the committee could go to the nominees requesting information on the
following points.

1.  How broadly the innovation is employed, i.e, in just one lecture or lab
exercise or throughout the course.

2.  How well the effectiveness of the innovation has been measured.  Is
there formative evaluation that resulted in revision of the technique?
Does summative evaluation demonstrate that students like the innovation
("makes learning fun," etc.) and/or that learning was improved?

3.  Has the innovator offered to share his/her expertise with others so
that the innovation might be carried to other courses or other disciplines?
This could include publications, presentations at professional meetings,
symposia, and workshops.

4.  To what extent the innovator had to learn new skills.  For example, the
use of technology could require enormous amounts of time and hard work on
the part of the innovator.  Other innovations would utilize existing skills
of the instructor but new approaches.

5.  The uniqueness of the innovation.  It might be new to your course or to
your campus but a teaching strategy widely used elsewhere.  Did the
instructor actually "invent" the innovative approach?

6.  Others?

I would strongly urge you to recognize all of the nominees in some
meaningful way (lunch with the President, Provost, etc.), certificate,
plaque, grant for hardware/software (something that would further enhance
the strategy), travel funds and registration fees to take a workshop on the
technology or to give a paper at a professional meeting, etc.  None of the
innovative faculty who are daring to try new approaches should go away from
the process feeling like a "loser."  I also urge that you arrange an
"Innovative Strategies Fair" where the nominees could showcase their
innovations to the rest of the faculty and students.  Announcement of the
"winners" might be a culminating event at the Fair.  This will "spread the
gospel" on your campus.  And also consider having these faculty demonstrate
their teaching strategy to the Board of Trustees.  One demonstration at
each meeting wouldn't take up much time but would give the Trustees a sense
of the quality in your classrooms.  Some of them might even be sufficiently
impressed to donate or solicit funding for the innovations.

Thanks for making us aware of such a great idea!

Dave
*********************
David W. Kramer, Ph.D.
Asst. Prof. of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
Ohio State University at Mansfield
1680 University Drive
Mansfield, OH  44906-1547
Phone:  (419) 755-4344      FAX:  (419) 755-4367
e-mail:  kramer.8 at osu.edu
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You wrote (edited):

>I serve on my university's Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness
Committee,

>and we are discussing the idea of developing an award to recognize
faculty

>who are successful at implementing innovative teaching strategies in
their

>courses.  We are now seeking to develop criteria by which nominees for
the

>award can be evaluated.  The committee thought that it would be a good
idea

>to solicit information about criteria that are used by other
institutions

>or organizations that give out such awards.


What a great idea!  We do not have such an award here but I'm going to
suggest it.  "Innovative teaching strategies" will be VERY diverse.  I
would encourage you to avoid narrow definitions in seeking nominations.
 It will be extremely valuable to the institution just to learn what is
going on in the classrooms!  (Yes, I actually said that!)  I mean, of
course, that there are many wonderful strategies in college classrooms
that most of us never know about because we each "do our own thing" and
only the most highly technical ($$$) or outrageous experiments are
widely known.


The problem will come with the evaluation of such a mixed bag.  Here
are some criteria by which even a rich diversity might be judged. 
You'll have to design the "nomination form" so that the selection
committee will get information about each of these points.  Another
approach would be to keep the nomination form very simple so that
students and faculty without all the detailed knowledge might
participate in the nomination process.  Then, the committee could go to
the nominees requesting information on the following points.


1.  How broadly the innovation is employed, i.e, in just one lecture or
lab exercise or throughout the course.


2.  How well the effectiveness of the innovation has been measured.  Is
there formative evaluation that resulted in revision of the technique? 
Does summative evaluation demonstrate that students like the innovation
("makes learning fun," etc.) and/or that learning was improved?


3.  Has the innovator offered to share his/her expertise with others so
that the innovation might be carried to other courses or other
disciplines?  This could include publications, presentations at
professional meetings, symposia, and workshops.


4.  To what extent the innovator had to learn new skills.  For example,
the use of technology could require enormous amounts of time and hard
work on the part of the innovator.  Other innovations would utilize
existing skills of the instructor but new approaches.


5.  The uniqueness of the innovation.  It might be new to your course
or to your campus but a teaching strategy widely used elsewhere.  Did
the instructor actually "invent" the innovative approach?


6.  Others?


I would strongly urge you to recognize <bold>all</bold> of the nominees
in some meaningful way (lunch with the President, Provost, etc.),
certificate, plaque, grant for hardware/software (something that would
further enhance the strategy), travel funds and registration fees to
take a workshop on the technology or to give a paper at a professional
meeting, etc.  None of the innovative faculty who are daring to try new
approaches should go away from the process feeling like a "loser."  I
also urge that you arrange an "Innovative Strategies Fair" where the
nominees could showcase their innovations to the rest of the faculty
and students.  Announcement of the "winners" might be a culminating
event at the Fair.  This will "spread the gospel" on your campus.  And
also consider having these faculty demonstrate their teaching strategy
to the Board of Trustees.  One demonstration at each meeting wouldn't
take up much time but would give the Trustees a sense of the quality in
your classrooms.  Some of them might even be sufficiently impressed to
donate or solicit funding for the innovations.


Thanks for making us aware of such a great idea!


Dave

*********************

David W. Kramer, Ph.D.

Asst. Prof. of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology

Ohio State University at Mansfield

1680 University Drive

Mansfield, OH  44906-1547

Phone:  (419) 755-4344      FAX:  (419) 755-4367

e-mail:  kramer.8 at osu.edu

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