Can the Student Course Evaluation be Redeemed?

November Issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education

Critiques of course evaluations came this year from Carl E. Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, who cast doubt on their validity and reliability. He proposed that professors should instead complete an inventory of the research-based teaching practices they use. He argues that such an inventory would be more likely to promote learning than traditional evaluation methods, which fail to document teaching practices that lead to improvements in student learning outcomes. The IDEA Center, a 40-year-old nonprofit that spun off from Kansas State University, has developed a student-ratings system that they propose is a better tool than course evaluations. This article summarizes the tool and provides examples of its use at other campuses.

Graduate Students’ Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills

August Issue of Science

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate students are often encouraged to maximize their engagement with supervised research and minimize teaching obligations. However, the process of teaching students engaged in inquiry provides practice in the application of important research skills. Using a performance rubric, we compared the quality of methodological skills demonstrated in written research proposals for two groups of early career graduate students (those with both teaching and research responsibilities and those with only research responsibilities) at the beginning and end of an academic year. After statistically controlling for preexisting differences between groups, students who both taught and conducted research demonstrate significantly greater improvement in their abilities to generate testable hypotheses and design valid experiments. These results indicate that teaching experience can contribute substantially to the improvement of essential research skills. [Science 19 August 2011, Vol. 333, pp. 1037-1039]

Transforming Institutions: Undergraduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

Published by Purdue University Press

The book builds on the authors’ national reputations at the forefront of transformative undergraduate education research, and provides an overview of the context and challenges in STEM higher education.  Contributed chapters describe programs and research in this area, reflect lessons from many perspectives, and describe suggested next steps in the path toward an aspirational new normal for STEM teaching and learning. You may order directly from the publisher and receive a 20% discount on print and electronic versions of this title by using code: PURDUE20.  This title also is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.