Revising UO’s Teaching Evaluations

Over the course of the 2017-18 academic year the University Senate and the Office of the Provost have endeavored to create a new model for teaching evaluation at the University of Oregon.

The work began in spring 2017 when a motion was brought to the Senate by faculty who were concerned about course evaluation ratings. The result was the creation of a Teaching Evaluation Senate Task Force charged with “evaluating and improving course evaluations and peer (faculty) reviews with respect to reducing biases and improving validity, with the goal of improving teaching, learning, and equity”.

While student feedback can be an important tool for continual improvement of teaching and learning, there is substantial peer-reviewed evidence that student course evaluations can be biased, particularly against women and faculty of color, and that numerical ratings poorly correlate with teaching effectiveness and learning outcomes.

More than simply revising problematic evaluation instruments, UO seeks to develop a holistic new teaching evaluation system that helps the campus community describe, develop, recognize, and reward teaching excellence at the University of Oregon.

The goal is to increase equity and transparency in teaching evaluation for merit, contract renewal, promotion and tenure, while simultaneously providing tools for continual course improvement.

How to Engage

We understand that this process will be a big shift in how the university evaluates teaching and we want to encourage your feedback and participation as the new tools are developed. You may provide your feedback through the online form below. We are currently soliciting instructors who are interested in piloting the student experience surveys or instructor course reflection for spring and/or summer 2018.

New System Overview

The new Continuous Improvement and Evaluation of Teaching System deemphasizes any particular data set (e.g., student ratings), instead offering new tools to document student input (midterm and end of term surveys), instructor reflection, peer review framework, and teaching evaluation framework.

Put simply, the university wants to make it easier to evaluate faculty on the things that really matter to student learning and to satisfying teaching careers.  

Evaluation vs. Improvement

The current system of evaluating teaching does little to track and reward faculty improvement or the care they put into enriching the teaching and learning culture on campus. The new system serves to not only evaluate faculty teaching, but also to provide tools for continuous improvement.

For example, in the new system a midterm evaluation prompts student reflections, checks student and instructor expectations, provides a sense of class climate, and informs adjustments to class plans if necessary. This information goes only to instructors, thereby providing a tool only for continuous improvement, rather than evaluation.

Additionally, the system offers an optional “10-Minute Reflection” end-of-term survey to instructors, making it easy for instructors to keep notes on what went well and what they might improve in a course. These optional reflections would go to departments, too, ensuring that the instructor’s own voice can inform evaluators’ interpretation of student feedback.

Note that in the proposed teaching evaluation framework, an entire section is devoted to “engaged teaching” and suggests that evaluators define excellence in part by instructors doing things like participating in the midterm and 10-Minute Reflection surveys, going to teaching workshops, and developing new curricula—the very kinds of positive, improvement-oriented actions that now often disappear from measures of quality.

System Development Process

This process will be iterative and take place over a period of at least two years.

Phase One

Phase one focuses on ensuring that the university’s data collection tools are in line with best practices. This phase began in winter 2018 with the piloting of new data collection instruments for faculty self reflection and the student experience. Pilots will continue in spring 2018 and summer session before the instruments are launched campus-wide in fall 2018.

Instructors who are interested in piloting the student experience surveys or instructor course reflection for summer 2018 may fill out the online form.

Instructor Reflection - At the end of each term, faculty members (and graduate instructors) will be provided the opportunity to reflect on their teaching using the newly developed instructor reflection tool. In the future these reflections will be centrally archived using the CollegeNet platform, and therefore available for faculty via Duckweb for use during course improvement and teaching evaluation.

Student Experience Surveys – Students have unique and valuable insights to offer for continual course improvement, but student ratings are problematic. Best practice includes midterm opportunities for student feedback to guide real-time changes in the course. Therefore, two new tools will be available for feedback regarding the student learning experience:  

Phase Two

In phase two, each unit will be asked to align their peer review framework with best practices for peer observation, discussion and report.

Beginning in fall 2018, a faculty learning community dedicated to supporting pilot departments in identifying and adopting new peer review instruments and procedures will be formed by the Office of the Provost’s teaching engagement program.

Phase Three

Phase three involves alignment of criteria for evaluation with the description of teaching excellence. The evaluation process will use the data collected from self-reflection, end of term student experience surveys, and peer review to determine whether unit expectations for teaching have been met or exceeded.


Phase One

Spring 2017

Fall 2017

  • Meetings with stakeholders: Associate Dean’s Luncheon on Teaching Evaluation, Grad Council, ASUO Exec, SWAT, Graduate Student Advisory Board, Women’s Center, Dean of Student Life- Staff, Student Trustee and Senators, Women of Color Coalition, LCB Dean’s Undergraduate Student Advisory Council, Dean of Students Advisory Committee, Mujeres student group, IMPACT (meetings continue through winter and spring terms)

Winter 2018

Spring 2018

  • Week 5 – Pilot updated midterm student experience survey in CollegeNet
  • May 1 – Town Hall for undergraduate students, 6 - 7 p.m., EMU Redwood Auditorium
  • May 2 – Town Hall for unit heads, 8:30 - 9:30 a.m., EMU Redwood Auditorium
  • May 2 – Town Hall for graduate students, 10 – 11 a.m., EMU Redwood Auditorium
  • May 3 – Town Hall for faculty, 10 – 11 a.m., Ford Alumni Center Ballroom
  • May 9 – Senate discussion of motion
  • May 23 – Senate passes amended motion. Midterm Student Surveys and 10-minute Instructor Reflections will begin campus-wide fall 2018.
  • End of term – Pilot updated student experience survey in CollegeNet
  • End of term – Pilot updated instructor reflection in CollegeNet

Summer 2018

  • Pilot of updated midterm and end of term student surveys in CollegeNet
  • Pilot of updated instructor reflection in CollegeNet

Fall 2018

  • Launch new student experience and instructor reflection tools campus wide
  • Committee returns to Senate with motion to replace current course evaluations with End-of-Term Student Experience Survey.

Phase Two (AY 2018-19)

  • Faculty Learning Community launches to develop unit peer review procedures
  • Review, assessment and improvement of student experience surveys and instructor reflection instrument

Phase Three (Ongoing)

  • Integration of instruments into unit level policies with criteria for excellence
  • Review, assessment and improvement of student experience surveys and instructor reflection instrument
  • Continued development of unit peer review procedures

Task Force Members

  • Helen Chu: Associate Dean of Libraries and Chief Academic Technology Officer, UO Libraries
  • Edward Davis: Curator, Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Assistant Professor Earth Sciences
  • Sierra Dawson: Associate Vice Provost, Office of the Provost; Sr. Lecturer II, Human Physiology
  • Judith Eisen: Professor, Biology
  • Nina Fox: Associate Director, CMET; UO Libraries
  • Andy Halvorsen: Senior Instructor, American English Institute
  • Bill Harbaugh: Professor, Economics and Senate Vice President
  • Austin Hocker: Graduate Student, Human Physiology
  • Brian Lowery: Associate University Registrar, Registrar’s Office
  • Lee Rumbarger: Assistant Vice Provost Teaching Engagement Program
  • Christopher Sinclair: Associate Professor, Mathematics and Senate President
  • Sanjay Srivastava: Associate Professor, Associate Department Head, Psychology
  • Veronica Vold: Access Advisor, Accessible Education Center
  • Emily Wu: Undergraduate Student, Economics