Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community

Benchmarks for Teaching Effectiveness Project

The KU Center for Teaching Excellence is taking part in a five-year project, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF; DUE-1726087) to foster improved methods of reviewing, documenting and evaluating faculty teaching practices at KU and at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Benchmarks for Teaching Effectiveness 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., identification of learning goals, assignment design, reviewing student work), and contributions to individual courses and the curriculum. 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. 

Why We Are 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). When other sources of information—such as peer observations or course material surveys—are available, reviewers often struggle to integrate and make sense of it all. Moreover, many new faculty members wish they had a better sense of how their teaching will be evaluated and had opportunities to learn from feedback. The 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 and over time. For more information about the rationale, see this report from the Association of American Universities, which features KU’s Framework.

What Will Participating Departments Do? 
Department teams will: 
  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. 
  5. Produce a brief report and present their work to other faculty at KU’s annual Teaching Summit. 

Participant Information and Eligibility
We anticipate awarding grants to three to five departments in Year 1 and adding two or three departments in Years 2 and 3. Departments in the Year 1 cohort will be encouraged to continue their participation for all three years by applying for a grant renewal ($5,000 in Year 2, $3,000 in Year 3).  Academic departments or equivalent academic units on the Lawrence campus are eligible.

For more information about the project, contact CTE Director Andrea Greenhoot ( or 785-864-4193) or Associate Director Doug Ward ( or 785-864-7637). Our flier about the project also contains more details and a copy of the rubric.

News & Notes

See how CTE is leading the shift to flexible teaching at KU.

Visit the Flex Teaching sitewhich provides help for creating flexible courses that can shift between in-person and online.