Download a self-reflection pro forma
What is self-evaluation and why should I do it?
"“Good teaching is not innate, it can be learned” (Kane, Sandretto, & Heath, 2004, p. 283)"
When we talk about self-evaluation, we are mainly talking about ways to systematically reflect on one’s own teaching and its effectiveness so as to find ways of improving. Research on a group of highly effective university teachers identified ‘reflective practice’ as the “hub” which they used to “integrate” their various teaching assets and competencies, i.e. their pedagogic skill, subject knowledge, research expertise, and social/interpersonal skills (Kane, Sandretto, & Heath, 2004, p. 299). Evaluating one’s own teaching can therefore form an important part of the reflective practice that has long been thought of as central to good educational and professional practice (Dewey, 1933; Schön, 1983; Linder, Leonard-McIntyre, Marshall, & Nchodu, 1997).
Although most of the specific tools suggested in these pages can be used on your own, you will probably find that you develop more quickly and confidently if you use some of the tools with your colleagues, such as in peer observations, or simply to form the basis of discussions with ‘critical friends’ about teaching in higher education (Chappell, 2007; Nilsson, 2013).
Tools to evaluate (your own) implementation of evidence-based practice
A recent body of research has provided compelling evidence for the effectiveness for a mode of STEM teaching which moves away from traditional lectures to incorporate far more active learning, supported by: increased pre-class reading, more frequent low-stakes testing, more frequent feedback, and enhanced collaborative learning via in-class peer discussion and group activities (Wieman & Gilbert, 2014; Freeman, et al., 2014). To promote uptake of these evidence-based teaching methods, the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI, University of British Columbia) has provided inventories and other resources to help those involved in undergraduate science teaching to reflect on and improve their practice (Wieman & Welsh, 2016). These include the Teaching Practices Inventory, the Classroom Observation Protocol and more. We recommend browsing the CWSEI resource pages to explore their downloadable and online tools and to find further references and examples about the underpinning educational research and approach.
Tools to aid reflective practice
One place to start when self-evaluating your teaching practices is to systematically reflect on a specific lesson you have taught. Chappell (2007) has developed a simple pre-lesson/post-lesson pro forma to aid reflection on the effectiveness of the lesson, the appropriateness of the methods and resources used for the learning outcomes and for the specific needs of the students, and on the extent to which students engaged with the lesson. We provide a downloadable version of the pro forma here. You could also use similar prompts in other ways, such as in a teaching journal. Over time, think about how you can use these tools to change your practices and monitor the effectiveness of these changes.
You could use the pro forma on your own or as part of a peer observation (Chappell, 2007).
If conducting a peer observation, it is good practice to follow these three steps:
- the teacher completes a pre-lesson pro forma for the observer;
- both teacher and observer complete an assessment or reflection on the lesson;
- the teacher and observer meet to discuss their observations and reflections, and consider possible improvements or changes.
See the ‘Lesson reflection’ section for a link to downloadable forms. You might also want to bear in mind Siddiqui, Jonas-Dwyer and Carr’s (2007) ‘12 Tips for Peer Observation’ (see original article for details and explanations)
- Choose the observer carefully
- Set aside time for the peer observation
- Clarify expectations
- Familiarise yourself with the course
- Select the instrument wisely
- Include students
- Be objective
- Resist the urge to compare with your own teaching style
- Do not intervene
- Follow the general principles of feedback
- Maintain confidentiality
- Make it a learning experience
You may feel that you want to take your self-reflection and self-evaluation to another level by engaging in action research. Action research is about empirical and reflective inquiry aimed at developing personal theories of practice within one’s own context of practice – in our case, the practical context of teaching. It involves four key steps (see Figure 1):
- identifying a ‘problem’ you experience in your practice;
- deciding on a course of action to address or find a solution to this problem;
- collecting data that will allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of this action;
- finding ways to embed changes into your practice
Chappell, Adrian. 2007. “Using Teaching Observations and Reflective Practice to Challenge Conventions and Conceptions of Teaching in Geography.” Journal of Geography in Higher Education 31 (2): 257-268. doi:10.1080/03098260601063651.
Dewey, John. 1933. How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process. Boston: Heath.
Freeman, Scott, Sarah L Eddy, Miles McDonough, Michelle K Smith, Nnadozie Okoroarfor, Hannah Jordt, and Mary Pat Wenderoth. 2014. “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 (23): 8410-8415. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319030111.
Kane, Ruth, Susan Sandretto, and Chris Heath. 2004. “An investigation into excellent tertiary teaching: Emphasising reflective practice.” Higher Education 283-310. Accessed 47.
Linder, Cedric J, Carrie Leonard-McIntyre, Delia Marshall, and M. Rudolph Nchodu. 1997. “Physics tutors’ metalearning development through an extension of.” International Journal of Science Education 19 (7): 821-833. doi:10.1080/0950069970190706.
McNiff, Jean (2016). You and Your Action Research Project (4th ed.). London: Routledge.
McNiff, Jean, and Jack Whitehead. 2006. All You Need To Know About Action Research. London: Sage.
Nilsson, Pernilla. 2013. “Developing a scholarship of teaching in engineering:.” Reflective Practice 14 (2): 196-208. doi:10.1080/14623943.2012.749231.
Schön, Donald A. 1983. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York: Basic Books.
Siddiqui, Zarrin Seema, Diana Jonas-Dwyer, and Sandra E Carr. 2007. “Twelve tips for peer observation of teaching.” Medical Teacher 29 (4): 297-300. doi:10.1080/01421590701291451.
Wieman, Carl. 2017. Improving How Universities Teach Science: Lessons from the Science Education Initiative. London: Harvard University Press.
Wieman, Carl, and Ashley Welsh. 2016. “The Connection Between Teaching Methods and Attribution Errors.” Educational Psychology Review 28: 645-648.
Wieman, Carl, and Sarah Gilbert. 2014. “The Teaching Practices Inventory: A New Tool for Characterizing College and University Teaching in Mathematics and Science.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 13 (Fall): 552-569.