Unit 2: Evaluating Instruction

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Bwestrightarrows.png Unit Objective & Purpose

Objective: After reviewing the components involved with evaluating instruction, the participant will reflect on his/her processes for evaluating his/her instruction by completing a checklist of evaluative strategies used in his/her instructional setting.

The purpose of this unit is to familiarize the participant with the types of evaluation and the dimensions of instruction that need to be considered when evaluating instruction.

Bwestreadit.png Introduction

Now that you are familiar with the concept of reflective teaching, it is time to take a more in-depth look at how it can be used for evaluating instruction. There are many different models and theories that can be used to guide your self-evaluation. Since this mini-course is an introduction to the topic, only the key ideas and factors will be discussed.

An important idea to keep in mind as you read through this unit is that evaluating of your own instruction is driven by your own professional or personal goals. Before any type of evaluation takes place, it is necessary for the instructor to determine what they want to evaluate and why (Marzano, 2012). By setting goals, the evaluation process gains relevance and meaning.

Bwestkeyidea.png Key Ideas for Evaluating Instruction

When reflecting on your teaching, it is necessary to consult a variety of sources to receive feedback. Once you have the feedback, you may reflect on the positive aspects of your instruction, areas that need improvement, and what you will do to ensure a change in your performance. When it comes to evaluating instruction, there are three main sources of information to look towards for feedback: self-monitoring, student feedback, and peer feedback. As you read through the following information, try to relate the ideas to your teaching context.

Self-Monitoring

The reflective instructor needs to assess his or her own performance. While this process may not be intuitive, taking proactive steps and asking critical questions of one's own instruction can help provide with the feedback needed to improve instruction.

Components of Self-Monitoring Before, During, and After Instruction (Brookfield, 1995)

  • Analyze your emotions. Understanding your emotions can provide you insight about your instructional effectiveness. Are you nervous or upset? Do you feel confident? How do you feel when responding to students? Your emotions may impact instruction, your classroom management, and determine how students interact with you during instruction.
  • Monitor your personal beliefs/biases. Your personal beliefs and/or bias may influence your instruction for better or worse. It is necessary to monitor your beliefs in order to engage your students in instruction that minimizes your opinions. Do you hold negative opinions about what you are teaching? If you do not internally monitor these feelings, students may react in a similar fashion or in the case of being biased, students may become disengaged during instruction if they feel they are being disrespected.
  • Physical Movement and Student Interaction. Your movements, gestures, and expressions during instruction may influence the instructional message. For example, if you only look towards the left side of the classroom, how do you know what students are doing the right side? Do you smile or frown at students? Does your voice inflection change when working with certain students? All of these cues send subconscious messages that may help or hinder student performance.
  • Physical well-being. It is necessary to think about how your health may impact instruction. If you are sick, you may not be as effective at teaching. If you are exhausted, you may not be "present" in the classroom. It's important to identify what you may have to do to address these issues if they exist.
  • Instructional Techniques. The way you teach impacts student performance. While this seems obvious, there are many subconscious behaviors all humans default to, and these can be difficult to identify without critical reflection. For example, do you utilize an appropriate amount wait time after asking students a question or do you only wait a few seconds before offering an explanation? By adjusting the amount of time you wait for student responses, you give students time to think about the question and respond to it. Did you provide enough scaffolding for students to understand the content? Did you consider all of the students differing abilities when designing the instruction?
  • Evaluate Your Knowledge. When you teach, how well do you know the content are you teaching? Would you consider yourself an expert? If so, how do you make sure that you teach the content at the students' levels. If you do not know the subject well, how can you come up to speed?

Student Feedback

The students play a critical role in providing both formal and informal feedback to teachers. Since students are the purpose for providing instruction, it is essential to use their responses to evaluate your instruction.
Forms of Student Feedback (Angelo & Cross, 1993)

  • Formative Assessments. Use formative assessments during instruction to gain insight about your instruction. Are students understanding your topic? If not, it might be necessary to find a new teaching strategy to relay your instructional message.
  • Summative Assessments. Use summative assessments for a larger overview of your instruction. Did most of the students pass or fail the exam/test/quiz/project? If so, to what degree? Asking these questions allow you to think about teaching and learning activities used during your instruction.
  • Analyze student behavior. Student behavior can serve as an indicator of your instructional effectiveness. While student behavior is influenced influenced by classroom management, it can also be influenced by the level of engagement during instruction. During your instruction, are students engaged? If they are not, then what might you be doing to disengage students? What type of engagement strategies do you utilize?

Peer Observers

In order to gain a better perspective on instruction, it may benefit a teacher to ask a peer, mentor, or supervisor to evaluate their instruction. The benefit of this feedback is that the individual may observe behaviors that you do not notice.
Tips for Utilizing Peer Observers for Feedback (Angelo & Cross, 1993)

  • Ask people who you trust. It is important that you feel comfortable with the observer, since being observed while teaching can be an uncomfortable process. It is important not to get upset with the observer's feedback, especially when you ask to be observed. The observer will usually only have the in-class observation as the basis to evaluate your instruction, so they might not understand how you manage your classroom.
  • Identify an area of instruction for the observer to focus on. Working under the assumption that you have a goal for evaluating your instruction, it is important to give the observer some instructional elements to focus on. Do you want the observer to focus on student interaction, or the alignment of your instruction to the curriculum standards? The failure to give directions to the observer will result in feedback that does not align to your goals.
  • Reflect on the observer's comments. After the observation, take time to really think about the observer's feedback. You cannot improve unless you use the feedback to change your instruction. You may also want to ask the observer for any clarifications and discuss how you may improve your practice.

Bwestpencil.png Activity: Evaluating Instruction Checklist

Now that you have read about the some of the essential components regarding evaluating your instruction, it's time to examine how your current evaluation practices. Download a copy of the Evaluating Instruction Checklist and complete the activity. The purpose of this activity is to get you to think about what you are already doing to reflect on your instruction and help you identify areas of weakness to improve upon. Unit 3 will discuss strategies you can use to address any deficits in your reflective practices.

Bwestrightarrows.png Click on the link to download the Evaluating Instruction Checklist: File:BWest Evaluating Instruction Checklist.pdf

Optional Activity: Post to Discussion Forum

Do you have any questions or comments about the concepts in this unit? If so, post your questions on the unit 2 discussion forum. The instructor and/or other participants may respond to your questions. You are also encouraged to respond to other participants.

Bwestrightarrows.png Click here to go to the unit 2 discussion forum.

Bwestideas.png Further Study

If you would like to continue exploring the concept of evaluating instruction, then consider completing any or all of these activities.

Reflect on these questions: 30 Questions for Teacher Reflection

  • This list of questions delves into the different dimensions of instruction that you may want to reflect on. Since it's often best to identify goals for improving your instruction, you may want to consider focusing your goals on a specific area of instruction.

View this video of a teacher reflecting on a lesson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-26ft3QHyo

  • This video is an example of a teacher reflecting on a lesson. It will provide you with some of the basic elements involved when evaluating instruction.

Read this article: Alderton, J. (2008). Exploring self-study to improve my practice as a mathematics teacher educator. Studying Teacher Education, 4(2), 95-104.

  • This article provides a first person account of a college professor who discusses how her use of self-study (reflective teaching) helps her evaluate her instruction. Her narrative may help put the idea of evaluating instruction into context for you. You will need to retrieve this article through your home library's databases or through interlibrary loan.

Bwestevaluate.png Unit Evaluation

Now that you have completed unit 2, fill out a unit evaluation survey. The mini-course instructor will use the survey data to make improvements to the Reflective Teaching: Evaluating Your Own Instruction mini-course.

Bwestrightarrows.png Click here to evaluate Unit 2: Evaluating Instruction

Bwestredo.png Mini-Course Navigation

Proceed to Unit 3: Strategies for Self-Evaluating Instruction

Return to Mini-Course Homepage | Unit 1: What is Reflective Teaching? | Unit 4: Developing an Evaluation Plan

Bwestfolderorange.png References

Angelo, T., & Cross, K. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Marzano, R. J. (2012). Becoming a reflective teacher. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.