Faculty Evaluators Suggestions

Suggestions for faculty evaluators at Bates College

The faculty rules about evaluation of teaching state the following:

Colleagues’ letters must be based on factual evidence as well as personal judgment, and must specify such factual evidence, including the number and approximate dates of formal observations of classes. This evidence may include the following: after adequate notice to the instructor, observations of classes over a period of time and in different courses; syllabi, examinations, or other course materials; formal interviews with students; observation outside of the classroom concerning such qualities as rapport with and accessibility to students; and responsibility in meeting obligations. (Article IV, Section 5d)

Ideally, letters will draw on multiple kinds of evidence.  If you choose to include class visits as part of your evaluation for a colleague’s teaching, here are some suggestions.

  1. It is a good idea to initiate discussions early with candidates regarding when you will visit their classes. That gives you the opportunity to see the syllabus and discuss the overall aims and methods of the course before visiting.
  2. Ideally, give at least one week’s prior notice to the candidate before visiting a class.  Please do not ask if you can visit a class that meets later that same day, as untenured faculty members may not feel they can say no to such a question.  Remember that candidates have the right to say no to a suggested visit on a particular day.  Some classes are more appropriate for visiting than others and candidates want to pick days that are likely to go well.
  3. It may be advisable to avoid visiting classes at the beginning, and at the end of a semester. Please find out in advance how the candidate feels about visits at these times.
  4. Opinions differ as to the degree of visibility that a visitor should adopt.  Some candidates appreciate active participation; others prefer inconspicuous silence.  It is best to find out in advance which style is preferred and adapt yourself to it, taking into account your own comfort and way of doing things.
  5. After visiting a class, candidates are generally appreciative if you are able to speak briefly to them at the end of class.  As soon as possible, it is helpful to initiate a conversation (face to face or on the telephone) in which you express your opinion of the class to the candidate, and allow her or him the chance to respond verbally.
  6. Evaluators should see enough classes to be able to evaluate the quality of teaching and describe it in their letters.  Depending on the number of visits for earlier reviews, the variety of courses taught or teaching styles used by the candidate, the length of class meetings, and the total number of evaluators, individual evaluators choose the most appropriate number of class visits.  Please indicate to the candidate in advance if possible, the number of visits you will make.
  7. If you are a member of a large department or committee, please discuss with the candidate the possibility of simultaneous visits by two or more senior faculty, to cut down on the number of evaluation days.   Some candidates prefer to get it over quickly; others prefer low profile visits by individuals — however many.  Please try to determine the candidate’s preferences about this.

In general, please remember that however cordial and informal relations may be between you and your untenured colleagues, your respect for and courtesy to them is crucial for the successful working of this part of the College’s evaluation process.