Teaching Excellence Task Force Fall 2021 Update

Oct 27, 2021

Next Steps, New Members, and Announcing Faculty Fellows

By: Leslie Cramblet Alvarez & Jared Del Rosso, co-chairs, Teaching Excellence Task Force

The Teaching Excellence Task Force (TETF) reconvened in September after a summer hiatus. Co-chairs Jared Del Rosso (Sociology and Criminology) and Leslie Alvarez (OTL) are excited to get to work along with the rest of the TETF, including new members nominated by colleagues through the Faculty Senate’s nomination process:

  • Dr. Paula Adamo, Teaching Professor, Spanish
  • Dr. Richard Colby, Assistant Director of First Year Writing and Teaching Professor, University Writing Program

This year, the Task Force is dividing the labor through two working groups to meet one of the charges of the Senate motion: survey best practices locally and nationally. One working group will research and disseminate information on DU’s current practices of teaching evaluation and the other will do the same for national best practices. Those researching DU practices will be contacting divisions and departments to compile this information. Those researching national best practices will be reading websites, white papers, and scholarship on these practices. Luckily, there is already great groundwork laid. Locally, there are departments who have already begun this work. Former OTL director Bridget Arend’s white paper  from 2018 summarizes highlights of local practices. Nationally, there are other institutions who have successfully completed this work, notably the TEval group, of which representatives participated in the Provost’s Spring Speaker Series last May.

In addition to the structural changes to policy and practice that will be the focus of the Task Force, the OTL will facilitate a year-long cohort model for departments ready to engage in departmental level changes. This experience will include facilitated sessions by OTL representatives and national experts, time to work as a departmental team, and carry a stipend to acknowledge the additional labor. Look for more details and an invitation to participate soon.

We are also pleased to announce the selection of two Faculty Fellows of Teaching and Learning who will be working together, with the Task Force, and the OTL to advance both institutional and departmental level changes. Given the scope of this work, the urgency of change, and the necessity of faculty leadership, faculty fellows are a critical investment. We welcome Dr. Barbekka Hurtt, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Jared Del Rosso, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminology, to this role.

Lastly, over the course of the next few months, we will continue this conversation with the DU faculty through a series of VPFA blogs introducing the DU community to alternative methods of documenting teaching excellence. We are all familiar with traditional Course and Teacher Evaluations (CTEs) or Student Ratings of Instruction (SRIs, as they are often referred to in the literature). While we don’t expect those to go away, we want to share other avenues to welcoming diverse voices — self, student, and peers — into the conversation, along with digging into potential metrics, including teaching reflections, peer reviews, and teaching portfolios.

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