Seven circles illustrating the seven dimensions of Benchmarks for Teaching Effectiveness

Benchmarks for Teaching Effectiveness

Since 2017, the Center for Teaching Excellence has collaborated on an initiative called TEval to foster improved methods of reviewing, documenting, and evaluating faculty teaching practices.

The TEval project is organized around a rubric-based framework for documenting, reviewing and evaluating university teaching. That framework, which was developed by CTE, is known at KU as Benchmarks for Teaching Effectiveness. It focuses on the seven dimensions of teaching shown in the graphic above. 

TEval received a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation (DUE-1726087) in 2017 and ended that phase of the project in 2023. TEval includes KU, the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Massachusetts, which all worked with departments and institutional leaders on creating a fairer, more nuanced approach to evaluating teaching. A fourth partner, Michigan State University, studied the change process at the other universities. (Read more about KU's continuing work below.)

An accessible version of the documents on this site will be made available upon request. Contact to request the document be made available in an accessible format.

Why are we doing this?

  • Universities like KU have traditionally relied on methods for evaluating teaching that prioritize a narrow dimension of teaching activity (the behavior of the instructor in the classroom) and a limited source of evidence (student ratings).

  • Benchmarks for Teaching Effectiveness increases the visibility of all dimensions of teaching, clarifies faculty teaching expectations, enables quick identification of strengths and areas for improvement, and brings consistency across evaluations.

Benchmarks components

Benchmarks posits that effective teaching involves the alignment of course goals and instructional practices, the creation of motivating and inclusive learning climates, and consistent attention to and reflection on student learning and feedback.  Benchmarks is organized as a rubric and identifies seven dimensions of teaching practice that are designed to capture the teaching endeavor in its totality, including activities outside the classroom (e.g., assignment design, reviewing student work), and contributions to individual courses and the curriculum. The Framework is designed to draw on information from three sources: the instructor, peers, and students. KU policies require these three sources for P&T, but reviewers often struggle to integrate and make sense of the evidence. Our goal is to provide structure and guidance to support meaningful implementation.

The rubric can be used to guide the evaluation of teaching effectiveness (e.g., for promotion and tenure or progress toward tenure). It can also be used to foster teaching effectiveness, as part of a peer review or teaching mentoring system, and to guide an instructor's own representation of their teaching. Informed by the work of 20+ "incubator" departments/schools participating in the NSF project (see below), we have created several adaptable resources to support these uses of the Benchmarks Framework. 

  • The Benchmarks Rubric, available as a text-only chart (.docx), specifies criteria to assess an instructor’s teaching contributions in the developing, proficient or expert levels. For use for Evaluation, departments/reviewers will need to identify expectations for achievement of the rubric levels for instructors at particular career phases (e.g., “for junior faculty to meet expectations, most ratings should be in the proficient category.”)
  • An Evidence Matrix (.docx), suggesting sources of information (e.g., Instructor, Peer, Students) about each dimension of the framework. 
  • A Sample Portfolio of Instructor Materials (.docx) provides an example of the full range of materials from three sources (Instructor, Peers, and Students) that might go into an evaluation portfolio for promotion and tenure. 
  • A comprehensive Instructor Guide for Documenting Teaching (.docx). Outlines processes for documenting and representing your teaching. Includes tools to guide self-reflective statements (a self-reflection narrative guide and a short-form for self-reflection), and suggestions for supporting documentation. Adaptable for P&T, multi-term, or annual review.  
  • Instructor Guide for Self-Reflection. The self-reflective narrative is typically the centerpiece of instructor documentation of their own teaching. This guide discusses how to write a self-reflective statement and provides prompts and suggestions for supporting documentation.  
  • Assembling a Course Portfolio. A course portfolios is an excellent way to organize materials or supporting documentation from an individual course, providing a concrete illustration of your teaching approaches for reviewers. Here is an Example Course Portfolio.
  • How to Represent Student Learning (.docx) for teaching evaluation. This document provides guidance and examples that can help instructors learn how to identify, represent and write about evidence of what and how well students are learning (which can then be used in a self-reflective narrative).
  • Department Template for Annual Review of Teaching (.docx). Guidance for departments and schools on how the Benchmarks framework and tools could be adapted to evaluate teaching for annual review. Can guide what information department asks for and how they review and evaluate it. Departments should adapt as needed. 
  • Benchmarks Evaluation Form (.docx). A fillable form for evaluators to use to provide feedback to instructors on each of the seven dimensions of teaching in the Benchmarks framework. 

Example surveys to gather information about Graduate Advising (.docx) and Undergraduate Advising (.docx) and an example Graduate Advising Report Template (.docx). Individual instructors may use these example surveys to collect data on their own undergraduate and graduate advising but the surveys will be most beneficial if administered at the department level.

The project involves working with departments and with institutional leaders to adapt and implement a rubric-based framework for documenting, reviewing and evaluating university teaching.

What Are Participating Departments/Schools Doing?

Departments go through the following cycle of activities, guided by CTE:

  1. Adapt the rubric, identify materials that might be used in each category, and build consensus with department colleagues.
  2. Use the modified rubric for some purpose, such as guiding a peer review or mentoring system, or structuring reviews of teaching for promotion and tenure or progress-toward tenure. 
  3. Share results with department faculty after use on multiple cases; review and revise framework.
  4. Participate in a cross-department working group of team leaders to share strategies, results, and lessons, and develop guidelines for departments and review committees.

Programs that have participated in Benchmarks

Cohort 1 (2018)Cohort 2 (2019)Cohort 3 (2020)Cohort 4 (2022)Cohort 5 (2023) (Focus on annual review)
BiologyAfrican & African American StudiesPharmacy PracticeCurriculum & TeachingEast Asian Languages and Culture
PhilosophyPhysics & AstronomySocial WelfareEducational Leadership & Policy StudiesEnglish
Chemical & Petroleum EngineeringLinguisticsCivil, Environmental, & Architectural EngineeringEducational PsychologyHistory
SociologyFrench, Francophone, & Italian Studies History 
School of Public Affairs & Administration  School of Professional Studies 


Participant Information and Eligibility

We have awarded grants to 19 departments over five years of the program. We do not anticipate offering additional grants at this time, but other departments or equivalent academic units on the Lawrence campus are welcome to join the program.

For more information about the project, contact: