Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Teaching Test

A local university was looking to hire a new faculty member. Part of the selection process was to give a teaching demonstration to evaluate the teaching skills of the new hire. The only issue is that that teaching demonstration was giving only to members of the faculty. Though faculty members might be able to discern teaching skills, it is still difficult to determine if the students will benefit from his/her teaching skills.

Since the faculty already knows the material and has taught the material for so long, it is difficult to determine if the average student would have difficulty understanding the lecture. Since the faculty member already knows the material he/she uses his/her knowledge and understanding to fill-in any gaps in explanation or presentation. -Explanation bias once again.

The solution is to test the instructor in front of actual students. Here are the details, suppose the school has 10 candidates, then the school will then choose 10 classes all at the same level (for example Math 50 or whatever numbering system). Since each class has different students, the school can control for student performance by choosing classes with the same overall standardized test scores (standardized tests given by the school). Since different subjects in math may be more or less difficult for students, all the classes chosen to test the candidate will be at the same section in the book.

Now that the school has controlled for several variables, the candidate is then asked to prepare a lecture and to instruct one of the chosen classes. After maybe one or two classes the students are then given an mini-test to determine the quality of instruction, AND are given a questionnaire to determine what the students think of the candidate.

This is probably the most objective way to test the instruction skills of a candidate.

John G.


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