Evaluation of Course Curriculum and Teaching: Guidelines for Higher Education Instructors

Evaluation of Course Curriculum and Teaching: Guidelines for Higher Education Instructors

James P. Coyle (University of Windsor, Canada), Irene Carter (University of Windsor, Canada), Derek Campbell (University of Windsor, Canada) and Ori Talor (University of Windsor, Canada)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4458-8.ch017
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In order to be effective teachers, higher education instructors must do more than evaluate the content of their courses. They need to assess curriculum design and methods used for teaching and assessing student learning. This can be challenging since instructors may receive little training in effective methods for teaching adult learners. This chapter explains the reasons why instructors should evaluate their courses and describes the characteristics of effective course curricula, teaching methods, and procedures for assessing student learning. A Curriculum Evaluation Checklist is proposed as a useful tool that has practical benefits for instructors who evaluate their curricula and teaching.
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Evaluating our performance is an essential element of skills development. Employers evaluate employee work performance; sports coaches assess their players’ skills; voters evaluate political leaders; educators evaluate students’ learning. Evaluation is the keystone for improving our abilities and performance. We evaluate ourselves in order to measure our progress, plan future goals, prepare for external evaluation, or market our skills. Self-evaluation is also a professional responsibility to meet standards for competence and continuously improve the quality of our work performance.

In higher education, instructors evaluate their teaching. However, this can be a challenging task since it requires assessing various aspects of teaching, including course design, content, teaching and learning methods, and assessing student learning. University and college faculty and instructors may be experts in their discipline or course content, but they often receive little training in effective methods for teaching adult learners. There are many methods that instructors may use to improve their teaching skills: continuing-education, self-study, reviewing student feedback from formal student evaluation surveys, and peer evaluation of teaching. However, assessing whether these methods produce curricula and teaching methods which actually improve course outcomes requires a method for identifying and measuring the characteristics of effective course curricula and teaching.

This chapter will explain the purpose of evaluating our courses, describe characteristics of effective course curricula and delivery, suggest a useful checklist for curriculum evaluation, and describe practical benefits for instructors who evaluate their curricula and teaching.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Universal Instructional Design: Designing physical, social, and learning environments that are usable by all students involving adaptation to accommodate diverse learning styles or needs.

Andragogy: The study of teaching methods used for teaching adults (from the Greek “andra” meaning man or adult).

Learning Outcomes: Statements that describe the expected knowledge, abilities, or performance which students will be able to demonstrate after successfully completing a learning experience.

Summative Assessment: A procedure that evaluates outcomes of student learning, which measures students’ ability to demonstrate course knowledge or skills.

Pedagogy: The study of teaching methods, more specifically teaching children (from the Greek “peda” meaning child).

Authentic Assessment: Tools or tasks used to assess student knowledge and/or performance which mirror real-life situations or contexts, in particular those related to career or workplace. Reflects educational goals that prepare students for future career or workplace needs.

Formative Assessment: A procedure that provides feedback about student learning in order to help improve or expand their learning. It may help students identify areas for further study or practice and also may guide the instructor’s choice of additional learning content or methods.

Active Learning: A learner-centered approach in which students and instructors work collaboratively to identify, implement, and accomplish learning goals and methods that meet students’ needs.

Self-Evaluation: Assessing what one knows, does not know, and what one wants to know. It can sometimes assess the assumptions or beliefs underlying knowledge and the meaning or relevance of knowledge or performance. It forms the basis for self-improvement and setting learning goals.

Curriculum (Plural is Curricula): A course of study in a school, college or university. It may refer to a specific course or to a group of courses that comprise a program or area of study.

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