Exploring Engineering Faculty Belief and Practices of Student Evaluation and Pedagogy

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Evaluation of teaching is an integral component of engineering education that is designed to improve student learning and faculty practices. But the data and methods used to conduct evaluation can affect the way faculty make pedagogical choices. It is therefore important that educators and administrators better understand the ways in which faculty beliefs about teaching and learning are related to or affected by institutional evaluation approaches. The purpose of this research is to explore the ways in which institutional evaluation approaches influence the perceptions and actions of engineering faculty and in particular, the way faculty use these data to make changes or improvements to their teaching. To that end, we ask the following question: How do engineering faculty beliefs and practices about pedagogy influence their perceptions of institutional evaluation methods?

We are a research team committed to exploring diversity, equity, and creativity in engineering education.

 

Ahmed Osman

Researcher

Ahmed’s goal is to identify implicit factors within engineering education to make the learning environment equitable and to strive for diversity within engineering. His current work consists of thematic analysis to steer thoughts and deepen analysis of faculty practices and beliefs.

Eric Cuellar

Researcher

Eric is passionate about optimizing the creative capacity of engineering design teams and fostering creativity in education. His research interests include the ideation process, metrics for creativity, idea selection methods, diversity in engineering, and equitable design practices.

Ben Lutz

Advisor

Ben’s research interests include critical pedagogies; efforts for diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering, engineering design theory and practice; conceptual change and understanding; and school-to-work transitions for new engineers. Ben started and mentors the CREATE team.

Research Poster

Motivation

  • Student evaluation of teaching (SET) is an integral component of engineering education
  • Evaluation practices may influence pedagogical decisions
  • Understanding faculty beliefs about evaluations may help improve questions and practices

Methods

  • Conducted interviews with 29 engineering research faculty
  • Used qualitative thematic analysis to examine beliefs and practices across pedagogy and student evaluation

Codebook

Pedagogy Beliefs

  • Effective teaching
  • Effective learning
  • Motives to improve

Pedagogy Practices

  • Content delivery
  • Assessing student learning

Evaluation Beliefs

  • Impact on career
  • Validity/reliability of data
  • Implicit evaluation criteria

Evaluation Practices

  • Institutional feedback
  • Improvised faculty feedback

Exploring Engineering Faculty Beliefs and Practices of Student Evaluation and Pedagogy

Ahmed Osman, Eric Cuellar, and Ben Lutz

Research Question

How do engineering faculty beliefs and practices about their pedagogy influence their perceptions of evaluation methods?

Key Takeaway

Universities may consider asking about Research Based Instructional Strategies and student learning practices to minimize the existing gaps in student evaluations.

Quotes

“I know that they’re used as a yardstick. I do know that everyone admits they’re probably not the best yardstick, but they seem to be still used. ‘Cause they’re not great, but they’re there, so we’ll use ’em.”

“[SETs] are highly tied to expectations of students and those expectations are norm…around the dominant paradigms. So the more you are white, male, straight, you know, etc. English speaking.”

Findings

  • Disconnect between what’s being asked and what’s being evaluated
  • Effective teaching requires understanding of effective learning
  • Lack of clarity surrounding institutional usage of SET data may influence pedagogy decisions

Implications

  • SET questions on the frequency of Research Based Instructional Strategies (RBIS) may better align what’s being asked vs what’s being evaluated
  • Questions about student learning and the use of mid-course evaluations may provide greater context for faculty
  • Greater clarity on SET data usage may help foster the use of RBIS in teaching while curbing behaviors used only to boost evaluation scores

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Cal Poly SURP for funding our work and our advisor Ben Lutz for mentoring us.

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