I want to update my teaching documentation over the break, but I’m not sure how to document student engagement in my courses. What counts as “evidence” and how can I show that students really love my courses?
-Beloved Prof

Dear Beloved Prof,

Documenting your teaching can go far beyond just student evaluations and a teaching philosophy. It sounds like students are producing work that they’ve enjoyed undertaking in your courses, so let’s first talk about how to showcase student work. Start by selecting a few exemplary student products (papers, presentations, exam answers…) along with the rubric you use to evaluate those. You can annotate the student work with comments such as, “Student connected X theory to their own personal experience” or “This slide is a clear graphical representation of a complex biological process…” These annotations will help your reviewers understand why this work is so exceptional.

While student evaluations are not always a great indicator of student engagement, sometimes comments from students highlight why and how your course was important to their overall experience in college. If you have student comments that highlight transferrable skills, (e.g. “Your class gave me the opportunity to perfect my technical writing which is essential for success in my major,” or “I now have the confidence to explain macroeconomics to non-specialists”) you may wish to highlight those. In addition, some students will reach out at the end of their academic careers with thank you notes. If any of these notes include comments about how your course has had a lasting impact on their choice of career or broader lives, they are great evidence of student engagement.

There are lots of other kinds of evidence you might wish to include, such as Canvas analytics, mid-semester feedback comments, or screenshots of iClicker or polling questions. Teaching excellence is not teaching perfection. It is reflecting and documenting how you continue to try to improve your teaching and student learning over time.

Every course is different, and our partners in CTAL are always here to help you highlight your exceptional work in (and out) of the classroom.

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Submit your questions to faculty-commons@udel.edu (we promise we will keep you anonymous).

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