Teaching Awards


A potential outcome of effective teaching could be a teaching award. This week I would like to share a 2006 article entitled, "Teaching Awards: What Do They Award?" by Chism. I would also like to share more recent information on a teaching recognition program that might be an effective method to value teaching in higher ed.

Chism points out that "although the effects have not been rigorously assessed, teaching awards are initiated for three main reasons:

  1. Institutions hope to symbolically acknowledge their support for teaching;

  2. To recognize the accomplishments of excellent teachers; and

  3. To encourage other faculty to achieve similar levels of performance in teaching (Chism & Szabo, 1997; McNaught & Anwyl, 1993; Menges, 1996)."

This study sought to answer four main questions:

  1. On what criteria are teaching awards programs based?

- The most common include (a) communication skills, (b) organization, (c) high standards, (d) clear goals, (e) enthusiasm, (f) engagement, and (g) higher order thinking

  1. To make judgments, what kinds of evidence do teaching awards programs collect?

- Letters, student evaluations, CV

  1. What standards do awards programs use to judge the evidence?

- There was no data found; if standards are in use, they are not published

  1. Is there a match between the criteria and the evidence sought?

- Uncertain

One approach to teaching awards that integrates teaching research is summarized in a 2014 article entitled "Using a scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) approach to award faculty who innovate" by McLain. Of note, this paper references work by Chism (2006) where she "reviewed 144 teaching awards looking for criteria, evidence used for making judgments, and the match between criteria and evidence. She found that half had no criteria, and only two programs aligned criteria with requested evidence. Impact on student learning was the second most frequently criterion, but only 4% of the awards required samples of student work. Most important for this review is that only two awards connected criteria and evidence, and no award required an analysis of student learning."

Duquesne University has created a process based on this SoTL model, which highlights include:

  1. An analysis of faculty innovation's contribution to student learning is critical;

  2. Alignment between the learning outcomes, teaching/learning methods, and the evidence of learning; and

  3. Direct evidence of learning is required.

Chism, N. (2004). Teaching Awards: What Do They Award? The Journal of Higher Education, 77(4).

McLain, L. (2015) Using a scholarship of teaching and learning approach to award faculty who innovate, International Journal for Academic Development, 20(1), 58-75.

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