Guidelines for assessment of teaching effectiveness

Revised: 1996
Issued: 1989
Approved by FIS Council: 1981, October 15


These guidelines are intended for use within the Faculty of Information Studies in making decisions on tenure and promotion for regular faculty, and on the reappointment of tutors. Because evaluation of research is based on other University guidelines, these guidelines focus on subject mastery and other essential qualities affecting teaching effectiveness.

Characteristics of an effective teacher in the field of Information Studies

The Faculty of Information Studies is one of the professional faculties that offer no undergraduate instruction and it therefore falls wholly within the School of Graduate Studies. At the level of graduate education mastery of a subject and its literature and active involvement in research are the sine qua non of a good teacher.

Other essential qualities for effective teaching are the ability to stimulate the students' interest in the field, to challenge their intellectual capacity, and to encourage independent thinking and the development of critical skills. The best teachers will impart to students the ability to learn for themselves.

Both skills in communicating and accessibility enhance the effectiveness of a good teacher but do not, of themselves, make a good teacher.

Methods of instruction and the teaching function

No one method of instruction is preferred at the Faculty of Information Studies but the methods used should be appropriate to the subject being taught and to the size of the class.

Teaching at the level of graduate education is not confined to formal lectures or seminars. An important part occurs in one-to-one situations especially at the Ph.D. level:

  • directing graduate research, for example, supervision of reading courses, guidance of research-stream projects and doctoral research
  • assessment (oral and written) of student work
  • supervision of field work and practicum projects
  • informal conversations and discussions between students and teachers, which may or may not be related to any formal course

Documentation used in assessing teaching effectiveness

As a basis for assessing teaching effectiveness, the Faculty of Information Studies obtains documentation as appropriate:

Material supplied by the faculty member

  • statements of course objectives
  • course outlines
  • reading lists
  • papers and projects, published or unpublished, produced by students
  • any other evidence of teaching skills, as appropriate.

Material solicited from academic and professional peers

  • assessments of teaching ability from academic colleagues, particularly colleagues teaching the same course(s)
  • evidence of contribution of expertise to the teaching activities of colleagues
  • assessments from professional colleagues within and outside the University
  • assessments of contributions to professional conferences
  • assessments of contributions to continuing education programs
  • reports on consulting (formal and informal) on professional problems.

Material solicited from students and graduates

  • annual course evaluations (up to 5 years previous)
  • confidential assessments solicited from individual students in representative courses taught by the faculty member
  • achievements of graduates when a connection with teaching ability can be substantiated.

Material supplied by the Dean

  • grade distributions
  • comparative course evaluation point scores.

Other evidence, usually obtained from the CV

  • courses designed and/or taught
  • special systems developed to support teaching, e.g. CAI, A/V, etc.
  • supervision of research-stream projects or membership on research-stream committees
  • supervision of Ph.D. theses or membership on thesis committees
  • membership on Ph.D. oral examination committees
  • awards received for excellence as a teacher, and other forms of external recognition
  • invited addresses on teaching techniques, innovations, etc.
  • published papers/reports on teaching techniques, etc.

Collection of documentation

It is the responsibility of the Dean to solicit, acquire, and organize letters from students and graduates and from academic and professional colleagues. The Dean should consult the candidate as well as the Promotions and Tenure Committees for assistance in identifying appropriate evidence of teaching effectiveness, but all responsibility for the actual collection and submission of documentation that only the candidate can provide rests with the candidate.

Method of evaluation

Confidentiality shall be observed in all aspects and stages of the evaluation process.

Either the Dean, or a body as defined in the applicable University policy, or a member of the Promotions and Tenure Committees shall be responsible for preparing a written assessment of teaching effectiveness based on the documentation.

The actual method of evaluation will be determined by the University policy governing the type of assessment for which the documentation has been collected. When there is no written University policy, as in the case of the reappointment of tutors, a policy shall be developed by the Faculty's Promotions and Tenure Committees and made known in advance to the candidate.