Formative Analysis of Classroom Teaching (FACT) ProgramThe Center for Teaching and Learning will be conducting FACTs upon request between 6 and 12 weeks every semester. We will resume taking the FACT requests in the fall of 2018.
Information about FACTs
The goal of the FACT process is to assist faculty members with their own reflective teaching by providing them with anonymous mid-semester feedback from their students. FACT results are confidential; no records are kept by the Center for Teaching and Learning.
FACTs are conducted mid-semester, after students have received at least one grade but with enough of the semester left for potential changes to be made.
REQUESTING A FACT
A FACT is appropriate for any faculty member who practices (or who wishes to practice) reflective teaching. Because the FACT provides information faculty members can use for reflection and self-assessment, a FACT must be requested by the faculty member. A FACT is not effective if it is recommended or required.
THE FACT PROCESS
After a faculty member requests a FACT from the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), a trained consultant from a different division is assigned to conduct the FACT. The consultant then arranges to visit one of the faculty member’s classes, usually during the last 20 minutes. The faculty member leaves, and, after explaining the FACT process, the consultant asks the students to work in groups of 5-6 to consider their learning in the class. Each group brainstorms ways in which their learning is helped or hindered and suggestions they have for changes that would enhance their learning. Each group then writes their responses on the board (starring the items that are repeated rather than writing them again). The consultant asks the students to explain their responses, and this conversation frequently leads to a lively discussion in which students help one another better understand the pedagogical choices that the instructor has made for the class.
The consultant subsequently meets with the faculty member for a 30 minute conversation to deliver the results. The consultant’s role is simply to be a spokesperson for the students, thus allowing them to remain anonymous. The consultant’s role is not to evaluate the class or the faculty member. Nor should the consultant offer suggestions unless explicitly invited to do so. The conversation between the consultant and the faculty member is also an opportunity for colleagues to talk together about teaching. Consultants often report that they feel they learn as much or more than the faculty members from the process. The consultant gives the single copy of the FACT results to the faculty member, and this is the end of the consultant’s role in the process.
FACT consultants agree to a promise of triple confidentiality:
they will not identify individual students to the faculty member, they will not discuss the results of a FACT in any way that would identify the faculty member, and, finally, they will not initiate a future discussion about the FACT with the faculty member (although they will welcome further conversation if it is initiated by the faculty member).
The conversation between the consultant and faculty member should occur prior to the next class meeting so that the faculty member can discuss the results with the class immediately. Students invest a great deal in this process and look forward to the faculty member’s response. Closing the loop by discussing the results with the class is an essential aspect—perhaps the most important aspect—of this process. It is important for the faculty member to, at the very least, acknowledge the comments the students have made. Ideally, the faculty member will begin the next class after the FACT with a discussion of class’s suggestions, including how they will be implemented or why they cannot be made. This is also an opportunity to clear up any misconceptions or confusion students may have.
The FACT is an extremely useful tool in the self-assessment of teaching, and faculty members are encouraged to include the reflections on their teaching that result from the FACT in their annual reports. It is important to emphasize that FACT consultants are not evaluators. No information about a FACT will be reported to anyone other than the faculty member requesting the FACT. FACT results and the names of faculty requesting a FACT are kept in strictest confidence by the consultants and the CTL. No records of any kind are kept and no information will be reported. The faculty member who requests the FACT, on the other hand, is encouraged to discuss the FACT process, its results, and the reflections it produces as he or she wishes. The reflections resulting from a FACT afford an opportunity for conversation with colleagues, chairs, deans, and other individuals who may be in a position to evaluate the faculty member. Faculty members are also encouraged to continue to contact the consultant who conducted their FACT for further conversations about teaching.
FACT consultants are trained by having a FACT, observing a FACT, and conducting a FACT under observation. Consultants meet together at the beginning and end of each academic year to discuss and assess the program by sharing insights, observations, and suggestions.