AHE TIG Week: Using Competency-based Assessment in Faculty Evaluations of Teaching in Higher Education to Support Experts in Teaching Roles by Amy Bowser

Hi, I’m Amy Bowser. Today there is a nursing shortage crisis across the United States. There are not enough qualified nurses to care for patients. Solving this problem is complicated because there is also a nursing faculty shortage. As a result, learners wanting to attend schools of nursing are being turned away. Nurses must be recruited to teach in higher education. However, nurses are experts in patient care, not trained educators. This situation is likely similar to most schools in higher education. Experts who become faculty are not typically trained to teach. Nurses and other experts are expected to develop teaching skills within the time constraint of the faculty role. How can we add additional support to the current mechanisms in place for new faculty development? Perhaps faculty evaluations of teaching can support the development of faculty teaching and learning practice.

Schools of nursing that use the American Academy of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) essentials for curriculum development are currently shifting toward a competency-based format. As a result, all program learning outcomes, courses, learning activities, and assessment now focus on what a student can demonstrate rather than how a faculty member will teach. Such a shift provides an opportunity for faculty evaluations of teaching to change from focusing on individual faculty teaching to teaching practices that support student learning of competencies. Within this context, there is an increased potential for experts to be supported in teaching.

Lessons Learned:

  • Reduce the Emphasis on Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs): SETs often decide faculty promotion or salary. Students report their opinions of an instructor’s effectiveness and satisfaction with the course experiences. While these surveys might offer some feedback on teaching, there is little support for linking SETs to evidence-based teaching practices (Bowser, A., Kazakoff, M., Scoot, P., & Dunbar-Jacob, J. (2022), in review).
  • Develop Other Faculty Evaluation of Teaching Tools:  Faculty identify evidence-based teaching practices appropriate for the various learning environments (large and small enrollment classes, skills lab, clinical, and simulation). Second, faculty create and approve assessment tools for observing classroom teaching practices. Last, faculty evaluation of teaching tools for each course includes 1) evidence-based teaching practices for the course format and 2) the course assessment tools for each competency. 
  • Use Faculty Evaluation of Teaching Tools for Instruction and Informal Feedback: Experts/ new faculty learn about evidence-based teaching practices used to support the student’s mastery of competencies within a course by reviewing the tools. These assessment tools are used as informal feedback to support teaching. After more experienced faculty/ mentors peer-review the expert/ new faculty’s classes, they can collaborate on ways to change teaching practices where students do not demonstrate mastery.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Assessment in Higher Education TIG Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from AHE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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