Reflective teaching practice

Reflections on assessments
In addition to what faculty members learn about student knowledge through assessment, they also learn about the effectiveness of their own teaching.  If faculty begin by planning a course around what they want students to know and be able to do through development of student learning outcomes, then by reflecting on the gap between what we want students to know and how they do on assessments we can learn more about our teaching.

Lessons from gaps
If there are a few questions that large numbers of students miss, there may be a problem with the question, the way it was worded, confusing directions, or fuzzy teaching of the concept at fault. If student presentations are of low quality, there may be a need for an example to set the bar higher, clearer directions, or a rubric that describes characteristics of an excellent, average, and unacceptable presentation.  If common misconceptions appear in student responses, the instruction may have lacked clarity or focus.  If many students do poorly on an experiment, there may be a lack of alignment between instruction, practice and the assessment activities. Whatever the problems that students have, by systematically reflecting on an analysis of the assessments faculty members have the potential to become better instructors.

Systematic means of reflection
There are many ways to accomplish a systematic review of assessment results.  They are variously called action research, practitioner led inquiry, lesson study, teaching as research, among others.  Seek out methods that work for you, and use the opportunity to analyze student learning data to improve your instruction.

Rationale for Reflection on Practice

Reflective Teaching Practice, Student Outcomes, and Institutional Effectiveness
Spoehr, K.T. (January, 2008). Originally a 2007 lecture at the Sheridan Teaching Seminar, The Teaching Exchange, Vol. 12, No. 2. Brown University
There are many styles of reflective teaching practice, but the principles underlying reflective teaching answer many of the criticisms leveled at American higher education, as asserted in this article.

Conduct Assessments of Learning and Teaching
Design and teach a course website, Carnegie Mellon University
This site provides an overview of how evaluating student learning, encouraging students to self-assess, and assessing your teaching as complementary and overlapping activities benefits both the quality of student learning and the professional development of the instructor. Multiple links offer a wealth of techniques and tools.

Strategies to Guide Self-Assessment

ALPS Area of Reflection, WIDE World Distance Learning Initiative, Harvard
Graduate School of Education
This area for reflection offers questions to ponder in general education, classroom settings, and as self-assessment for teachers.  Samples are provided from elementary classrooms, but the questions apply to instructors at all grade levels.

Reflective Teaching Practice in Adult ESL Settings
Florez, M.C. (2001). National Center for ESL Literacy Education, Center for Adult English Language Acquisition
This site dedicated to the professional development of instructors in ESL settings reviews the foundations of reflective practice, the process, benefits, and references.

Examples of Reflective Teaching

Reflective Teaching Practice by University Faculty: Rationale and Case Study in Computer Science
Kilpatrick, C., Frontiers in Education Conference
This articles discusses a bottom up, faculty driven approach to changing teaching that involves faculty supporting one another.

Teaching Teams: Creating the Context for Faculty Action Research
Bondy, E. & Ross, D. (Spring, 1998). Innovative Higher Education, Vol. 22, No. 3, p. 231-49
This article explores the use of teaching teams to support faculty action research.

Faculty Action Research that Supports Achieving the Dream: TCC, A Multi-Campus College
Strategy Institute (2007). Tidewater Community College
This powerpoint lays out in detail the research completed by a mathematics instructor and special assistant for academic projects.

Faculty Action Research: Applying Learning Pattern Theory to an E-folio Initiative
Marcellino, P.A., Eichenholtz, S. & Sosin, A. (November, 2006). Connexions Web Site
This paper focuses on the efforts of faculty to introduce a standards based electronic portfolio to aspiring educational administrators.

Faculty Self-Study Research Project: Examining the Online Workload
Thompson, M.M. (June, 2004). Pennsylvania State University, The Sloan Consortium, Vol. 8, Iss. 3. Penn State World Campus
Concerns about faculty workload are a deterrent to participation in online teaching. This is a study to explore that assertion.

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