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How to Become an Excellent Tertiary-Level Teacher - page 12 / 16





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If you want to be an excellent teacher, you should constantly monitor and evaluate your own performance.  Only by doing this can you tell whether you are being really effective.

You can do so in three basic ways:


By reflecting deeply and critically on your own performance as a facilitator of student learning, eg by maintaining a reflective log on all the teaching that you carry out.


Through feedback from your students, eg via informal discussions, class questionnaires and the results of student assessment (the last of these generally gives a very clear indication of whether you are being effective or not).


Through feedback from your colleagues, eg, by asking someone whose opinion you value to sit in on one of your classes and provide you with constructive critical feedback on how you did.

During the early 1990’s, the author’s own university developed a comprehensive scheme designed to help staff carry out such monitoring and evaluation of their performance as teachers (Ellington and Ross, 1997).  This was built into the university’s staff development and career review scheme, where it was used to help inform the planning of lecturers’ personal development programmes.  It also helped the university to provide tangible evidence of the quality of its teaching, something that was of considerable benefit during quality assessment visits.

Try all of these various techniques;  experience shows that they work.  Basic guidance on how to do so can be found in the 1997 booklet on ‘Developing a Personal Development Programme’ written by the author and Shirley Earl (see ‘References’), while more detailed guidance can be found in the book on ‘Assessing Your Own Teaching Quality’ written by Sally Brown and Phil Race in 1995 (again, see ‘References’).  The 1999 ‘Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Fry et.al., 1999b) also contains a number of extremely useful chapters dealing with personal monitoring and evaluation.

Golden Rule 6 : Always try to improve your performance

Excellent teachers are never satisfied with their performance;  they are always striving to do even better.

One practical way of doing this is to adopt a detailed set of standards to which you wish to aspire - eg, those produced by the Universities’ and Colleges’ Staff Development Agency (UCoSDA, 1994a) or by the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA, 1995).  You can then measure your performance against these standards on an on-going basis - by, for example, giving yourself a mark out of 10 for each, or rating yourself using a suitable scale.

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