The English Department is a very collegial place AND we take our teaching very seriously. The directors are pleased to have challenging conversations among themselves about what constitutes good teaching. They look at each other’s assignments and the essays their students produce. They, in turn, are observed by tenured faculty, including the Department chair. Full-time, part-time, adjunct faculty, and graduate assistants are generally observed by one of the writing directors. These observations are conducted in the spirit of professional development, though of course a written account will serve as one element of the instructor’s file for evaluative purposes. Instructor and observer agree on the observation day in advance and generally meet beforehand to learn both what the teacher is going to cover and what the teacher would like to have the observer look for in particular. These observations, however, occur in a much larger context, all of which serves the purpose of development as much as assessment: student evaluations, participation in the Teaching Portfolio Project (mandatory for full- and part-time instructors; optional for adjuncts and graduate assistants), forming sessions, discussion of student essays and instructor comments, and a case-study portfolio composed of the syllabus, all writing assignments, and all of the writing from one student.
English Department course evaluations. Instructors are expected to administer this evaluation at the end of each term in each section. They should make one copy for themselves, give a copy for their file to the Department secretary, and give one copy to either the Director of First-Year Writing or the Director of Basic Skills (ENGL0150 and 0160).
“What Every English Teacher Ought to Know about Using Student Evaluations.” This is a brief, useful article on what student evaluations mean and how to interpret them. Instructors are expected to administer the English Department
University-wide course evaluations. Students fill out a brief survey at the end of each term that is administered by the provost’s office. The results, which show how instructors rank vis-�-vis other instructors in the Department, School, and University, are returned to each individual instructor the next term. They are not shared with anyone else in the Department.
The Teacher Portfolio Project. This project serves primarily as a way to share the work we do in our classes in the context of individual inquiry into our teaching. In this sense it is more about professional development than assessment, but it provides a framework of exploration and growth within which the more formal assessment in the Department exists.