Developing and Initiating Implementation of a Framework for Assessing Teaching Effectiveness

Shawn Simonson
Professor / Faculty Associate
Boise State University

Current procedures to evaluate teaching are inadequate, inaccurate, and neither enhance teaching nor incentivize improvement. Because of this, instructors may not be aware of the need to change or how to effect change. It can be assumed that if teaching improves, then so will student learning. A framework (Framework for Assessing Teaching Effectiveness, FATE) defining the four criteria of effective teaching (Course design, Scholarly teaching, Learner-centeredness, and Reflective teaching) was developed and a rubric built to consider the multiple facets of each criteria. The framework and rubric are intended to capture a comprehensive spectrum of the many facets of effective teaching and be flexible enough to accommodate different teaching/pedagogical approaches, philosophies of teaching and learning, instructional modes, and environments. However, while many may agree that teaching needs to be assessed differently and support the idea, actually changing the way that teaching is assessed within higher education may require overcoming considerable inertia, resistance to change, logistical issues, and other unforeseen obstacles. Thus, in this study, we are seeking to begin to answer the question, “What are the conditions that support or impede the application of FATE and the associated rubric?” As this is an exploratory study, no hypothesis was proposed. The implementation of FATE was studied through the creation of a mock academic department. Strengths of FATE have been that it provides a comprehensive definition of teaching, clarity around teaching expectations, and establishes a common language with which to communicate about teaching. Challenges are that it tends to be difficult to locate and present evidence for some criteria, is a time intensive process for both portfolio creators and evaluators, there is some resistance to sharing with others what takes place within some classrooms, and considering current university teaching evaluation policies it is difficult to justify the resource commitment. Locally the broader impacts have focused on forming policies and practices at the institutional level and within the Center for Teaching and Learning. Conversations around assessing teaching are increasingly robust and evidence-based. Efforts are underway to create a strong institutional teaching assessment policy and repurposing of student evaluations of teaching based on FATE.


Brittnee Earle, Boise State University; Megan Frary, Boise State University