Documenting Instructional Effectiveness is intended to assist faculty engaged in documenting their own teaching processes, practices, and outcomes. Documenting Instructional Effectiveness is intended provide a foundation of what is typical in organizing and documenting effective teaching in higher education contexts. As such, the resources are not intended as a checklist or criteria, but general resources to support faculty who are unfamiliar or less familiar with the process of documenting teaching effectiveness for the purpose of formative or summative peer review.

All faculty should consult relevant university, college, and department policies and practices for specific expectations, criteria, and requirements. Documenting Instructional Effectiveness is intended to be a general guide and provides information that may not apply in specific circumstances. Likewise, the resources may not contain information specific to some college and/or department requirements. This resource does not substitute or take the place of any university policy. Consult with your department chair about department/program expectations, criteria, and requirements and how to utilize this resource for your own needs.

Links to CSULB Evaluation Documents and Forms:

Lecturer Evaluation Process
Reappointment, Tenure, & Promotion Process/
ALL Evaluation Forms/

Documenting Instructional Effectiveness provides an overview of typical ways that faculty provide evidence and are evaluated for instructional effectiveness across five broad categories:
  • Category 1: Course content and instructional/pedagogical knowledge and competence.
  • Category 2: Adherence to university/college/department policies, practices, and requirements.
  • Category 3: Development, design, and presentation of instructional material for a course.
  • Category 4: Classroom/Instructional environment behaviors which instructors must carry out for students to learn.
  • Category 5: Assessment of student outcomes, including, synthesis of student response to instruction, course grade distributions, and course GPAs, exemplary student work.

The information here describes what is typical in the evaluation of each of the five categories listed above and includes sample items that are used to evaluate various components of the category. There are numerous indexes, rubrics, and forms used in the evaluation of instructional effectiveness. Items on the CSULB Student Perceptions of Teaching (SPOT) form come from the ACE Item Pool linked below. The CSU system developed Quality Online Teaching and Learning (QOLT) to assess instructional effectiveness in partial and fully online modalities. This resource provides example items from ACE and QOLT to demonstrate typical assessments of instructional effectiveness. Below are links to the two nationally recognized, standardized item pools used at CSULB:

ACE Item Pool (Univ. of Iowa)
Quality Online Teaching & Learning (QOLT)

1. Establishing course content and instructional/pedagogical knowledge and competence.

Faculty are required, typically, to address training and competence in course content and pedagogical competence. The most common way that faculty address course competence is by listing/explaining advanced education and training specific to the course content. The explanation may include any awards or honors received in the content area of the course. CSULB requires all faculty undergoing reappointment, tenure, and promotion review to provide this information in a standardized format called the Professional Data Sheet

Pedagogical competence is demonstrated by listing/explaining advanced education, training, certificates, etc. specific to teaching, instruction, and/or pedagogy. Faculty are often asked to provide a teaching statement or teaching philosophy. Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching provides good resources for those writing a Teaching Statement or Philosophy for the first time or revising one written previously.

2. Adhering to university/college/department policies, practices, and requirements.

Departments are required to have a Standard Course Outline (SCO) for every course in the curriculum. The SCO contains the official course description, intended student learning outcomes, recommended or required course modalities, recommended or required textbooks, and other “non-negotiable” information specific to the course. All faculty teaching the course are expected to follow the SCO. Make sure you inquire about the course SCO prior to developing your syllabus and other course material.

Faculty assigned to courses in modalities other than face-to-face (e.g., online, hybrid, flipped) should determine if there are additional university policies and practices specific for their course modality. Consult with your department chair about any policies, requirements, or additional training that might be required for a specific instructional modality (laboratories, active learning classrooms, flipped, hybrid, online).

CAUTION: Faculty teaching a course for the first time may be provided with a syllabus and/or course materials from department colleagues. These examples are helpful in understanding the scope and content of the course, appropriate assignments, appropriate assessments, and other elements. However, in some instances, the example syllabus may not have been updated in several years. Do not assume that an example syllabus adheres to all current campus policies – check relevant policies to ensure your syllabus is current and in compliance. CSULB Academic Senate Policy Statements

The evaluative items used in all examples are drawn from two resources: (1) The University of Iowa Assessing the Classroom Environment (ACE) Item Pool; (2) The CSU’s instrument used to assess Quality Online Teaching and Learning (QOLT). Please Note: All items from QOLT are distinguished by an *

Example evaluative items used, typically, to assess adherence to university adherence to university/college/department policies, practices, and requirements.

  • The syllabus adheres to the university syllabus policy.
  • Campus accessible technology policies are followed.
  • The syllabus and other course elements adhere to the Standard Course Outline.
  • The faculty member demonstrates adherence to policies governing the modality of instruction.
  • *Academic integrity or “code of ethics” is defined and related institutional policies are clearly stated or those links is provided
  • *Grading policy is provided in a manner that clearly defines expectations for the course and representative assignments.
  • *Syllabus (or similar) links to the campus accessibility policy.

3. Development, design, and presentation of instructional material for a course.

There are numerous ways to discuss (in your narrative) and provide evidence (in your supplemental file) of how you developed, designed, and presented instructional material for a course. Chronological order is typical (e.g., beginning with your overall approach, background research/investigation of texts, assessments of student prior learning, typically approaches to the course, culturally relevant pedagogies, etc.). Address how you arrived at a design that is aligned with your course modality (face-to-face, flipped, hybrid, online) and intended student learning outcomes. Address how you have incorporated culturally responsive approaches in your design and considered any needs specific to CSULB students. Finally, you should discuss the channels/methods you use to present instructional material in the course. Seek guidance from your department chair about your department and college expectations and practices.

Example items used, typically, to assess development, design, and presentation of instructional material for a course.

Course Development and Design:

  • This course is well planned and organized.
  • Course objectives are adequately detailed.
  • Intended student learning outcomes are clear.
  • The sequence of course content facilitates learning.
  • Course difficulty is appropriate for students’ background/pre-requisites.
  • A good mix of instructional strategies (e.g., lecture, active learning, and practice) occurs in this course.
  • The pace of the course is appropriate to facilitate student learning/development.
  • *The instructor provides clear information regarding access to the technology and/or related resources required in the course
  • *The instructor provides students with adequate notice and time to acquire course materials.

Presentation of Instructional Material:
  • The textbook/readings/instructional material are aligned with intended learning outcome.
  • Course materials are a helpful guide to content covered in the class.
  • Required course activities are consistent with course objectives/intended learning outcomes.
  • Assigned readings are pertinent to the topics presented in the class.
  • Assignments contribute to student learning.
  • The instructor takes into consideration ethnic and cultural differences when teaching this course.
  • The instructor appears to be fair and unbiased in the treatment of all students in this course.
  • The instructor encourages mutual respect among students of diverse backgrounds.
  • *The instructor provides clear and detailed instructions for students to begin accessing all course components, such as syllabus, course calendar, assignments, and support files.
  • *The instructor articulates the purpose of instructional material and how it is related to the course, activities, learning objectives, and success of the student.
  • *There are a variety of instructional material types and perspectives presented, while not overly relying on one content type such as text.
  • *The technical competencies necessary for course completion are provided and identified.

4. Classroom/Instructional environment behaviors that instructors must carry out in order for students to learn.

Typically, classroom/instructional environment behaviors are observed directly by peers. A peer may visit your classroom as a department requirement or you may invite a peer to visit your classroom/instructional environment (check with your department chair about specific requirements). If you are teaching in an online modality (partial or fully) a peer may engage in a virtual visit or simply review your online/hybrid/flipped course (check with your department chair about specific requirements). Some departments have specific rubrics for peer evaluation of teaching. Most classroom visits are intended to assess two broad categories of teacher/student behaviors: (1) Teacher communication behaviors and classroom management behaviors; (2) Teacher facilitation of student engagement, peer interaction, and teacher/student interaction.

Importantly, classroom observations allow for opportunities to observe faculty engaging students to promote affective, cognitive and/or psychomotor learning. Teacher communication and facilitation behaviors in the instructional environment provide the most direct evidence of building student affect (i.e., linking the course content, motivation to learn) for the course and engagement with the faculty member and class peers. Teacher communication behaviors also provide direct evidence of how faculty explain content, manage the instructional environment, and facilitate peer-to-peer interaction aimed at increasing student learning. As such, peer observation of faculty in the instructional environment is critical to understanding how faculty are putting their development and design of course material into actions that result in student learning.

Typical items used to assess teacher communication are as follows:

  • The instructor is effective in presenting materials in lecture/discussion.
  • The instructor presents materials clearly.
  • The instructor seems interested/enthusiastic about teaching this course.
  • The instructor communicates at a level appropriate to students’ level of understanding.
  • The instructor seems concerned with whether or not students learn course content.
  • Important points are clarified with good examples.
  • Practical applications of the course are discussed.

Typical items to assess classroom management are as follows:

  • *The instructor helps students understand importance of course topics and related outcomes.
  • *The instructor sends communication about important course goals, topics, and assignments as opportunities arise.
  • *The instructor actively strives to keep course participants engaged and participating in productive dialogues.
  • *The instructor helps focus discussion on relevant issues.
  • *The instructor provides feedback in a timely manner.
  • *The instructor engages in behaviors that keep students on task (e.g., provides clear due dates/reminders of course readings, homework, assignments, projects and exams).

Typical items used to assess facilitation of student engagement, peer interaction, and teacher/student interaction area as follows:

  • *The instructor provides information about how to be a successful learner in this course.
  • Student’s questions are encouraged.
  • Student’s comments are responded to in an appropriate way.
  • The instructor is good at facilitating group discussion.
  • *The modes and intended outcomes of student interaction are communicated clearly.
  • *The learning activities facilitate active learning that encourages frequent and ongoing peer-to-peer engagement.
  • *The instructor explains clearly her/his role regarding participation in the online environment.
  • The instructor encourages students to communicate with the instructor outside of class if they are having difficulty.
  • The instructor communicates concern for student learning.

5. Assessment of student outcomes includes, but is not limited to, student response to instruction, course GPA, course grade distributions, and exemplary student work (e.g., culminating assignments or projects, benchmark assignments, other evidence of student learning specific to course learning outcomes, etc.).

The CSU-system requires an end-of-course student response to instruction. CSULB has a policy and instrument to meet this requirement: Student Perceptions of Teaching (SPOT). Please read the policy and instrument. Consult with your department chair about selecting courses to be evaluated via SPOT. Generally, end-of-semester student responses to instruction reflect perceptions of specific, observable teaching behaviors (e.g., the teacher was available during office hours, assignments were returned in a timely fashion). Student perceptions may also serve as indirect indicators of student affective learning, cognitive, and/or psychomotor learning.

Student perceptions of teaching that fall below department and college norms, consistently, can indicate a problem with instructional effectiveness and a formative review of teaching is recommended. A formative review following SPOT items that fall below department/college norms, consistently, should assist the faculty member in identifying specific areas to be improved.

Course grades may be reported by the number of A’s, B’s and so on – students earn in a course, course completion rates or the percent of students who earn D’s, F’s, W, or I. Course grades may also be reported by student ethnicity. Student grades by student ethnicity is important because it demonstrates the possibility of “opportunity gaps” in instruction in a course or across multiple sections of a course. The term “opportunity gap” refers to a disproportionate number of student non-completions within or across ethnic groups.

Exams, signature assignments, final course projects, and other exemplary work by students is typically used as evidence of student learning and instructional effectiveness. Make sure that you connect the student work to specific course learning outcomes and explain how the work demonstrates learning for a particular outcome. Some programs require students to maintain a portfolio of work accomplished in the program of study. Student portfolio submissions from your courses may also serve as evidence of instructional effectiveness. Faculty often work with students on independent study or other types of undergraduate/graduate research projects. Be sure to include any outcomes achieved by students engaged in independent study or research with you (e.g., poster and paper presentations at conferences, publications, etc.).

Seeking Formative Peer Review

Formative peer review is an excellent way to get feedback on your teaching. Formative assessments should provide the faculty member with recommendations on how to achieve adherence with current policies and practices. Additionally, you can demonstrate improvements in instructional effectiveness by utilizing feedback, making changes, and linking changes in your instruction to student outcomes. The Faculty Center for Professional Development (FCPD) provides formative peer reviews for all CSULB faculty. The FCPD provides review of course material and direct observation in the learning environment (classroom and online). The results of your formative review are completely confidential and it is entirely up to the faculty member as to whether or not they choose to share the information pertaining to the formative assessment. Simply make a request for a formative review at Department peers, including your department chair, may also provide formative reviews. Consult with your chair to determine if there are any department practices for formative peer reviews of teaching and suggestions on how to do so.