Tools and Resources

List Tools by Title

Browse through the tools by the title of the resource.


This document describes the use of partners who learn the course material together.

This book describes a research-based approach to teaching science to help students gain conceptual understanding. Originally based on biology courses, the book describes an approach rooted in active learning, backward design, and assessment.

This resource book offers guidance on the process of university peer observation and supplies a selection of instruments that faculty and departments can adapt for assessment of their teaching, whether for instructional improvement or for regular evaluation of teaching. This document does not express any university policy with respect to evaluation of teaching, nor does it serve any agenda other than the support of best practices in university teaching and assessment.

Often called “peer observation of teaching ” or “peer evaluation of teaching,” peer review of teaching (PRT) involves seeking feedback from an informed colleague for the purposes of improving one’s practice (formative assessment) and/or evaluating it (summative assessment). In 2010, the TAMU Faculty Performance Evaluation Task Force recommended having separate review processes for formative and summative assessment using multiple sources of data from students, peers, administrators, and as well as faculty themselves for evaluating teaching. Includes institutional perspectives and supporting videos from the University of Texas.

Peer review of teaching is a broad concept that includes an array of practices, including the assignment of teaching dossiers, syllabi, assignments, student and course evaluations, personal reflections, and peer observation. Peer review of teaching is used for both summative and formative purposes. The primary focus of this guide is formative peer observation of teaching at the University of Toronto, including online courses. The guide presents different models of peer observation and assessment that can be adapted to multiple contexts across the institution, providing tools and instruments for peer observation of teaching, and offering an overview of how to best use them.

In higher education, peer review stands as the prime means for ensuring that scholarship is of the highest quality, and from it flows consequential assessments that shape careers, disciplines, and entire institutions. While peer review is well established as a means of evaluating research across the disciplines, it is less common in the assessment of teaching. Yet it is no less useful, since it can improve what Ernest Boyer has called the “scholarship of teaching and learning” by enhancing instructional and faculty development, by bolstering the integrity of personnel decisions, and by enabling more intentional and mutually supportive communities of scholar teachers. This guide is intended as an introduction to the basics of peer review, including its purposes, challenges, and common practices. The primary audience for this guide consists of departments, programs, or schools considering implementing peer review, although individual faculty, staff, and students are likely to find what follows interesting, as well.

Resources excerpted from the University College Peer Review Handbook. Key words: faculty peer observation, faculty peer evaluation.

A list of Penn State Academic and Administrative Units. Document created for people new to Penn State. It is basically a simplified version of a Penn State Org Chart, but it is not an official document.

This policy outlines the conditions associated with academic freedom for faculty members at Penn State.

This is a survey report along with supplemental readings about Penn State as a community of learners.

Three learning outcomes from Penn State Mont Alto along with suggestions on next steps are briefly described in this paper.

2011 report on survey of student views on the quality of instruction at Penn State.

This report is the first in a series encompassed by the Quality of Instruction project. The research question guiding this report is: How do students and teachers view the instructional process at University Park? Information to address this question was obtained by surveying both students and faculty concerning their attitudes and experiences at University Park during the 1995-1996 academic year. These student and teacher surveys were made possible by support from the Penn State Alumni Association provided Fern (Bunny) Willits as the 1995-96 Alumni Teaching Fellow awardee and the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. Class Attendance data were provided by the Office of Student Affairs Research and Assessment Pulse Survey.
The complete citation for the report is:
Willits, Fern K., Moore, Betty L., & Enerson, Diane M. (1997). Penn State, Quality of Instruction: Surveys of Students and Teachers at University Park. Pennsylvania State University.

2011 report on survey of student views on the quality of instruction at Penn State

This 1997 publication, written by Diane Enerson, R. Neill Johnson, Susannah Milner and Kathryn Plank, addresses all issues related to teaching, including course design, evaluation and assessment. Included are examples and perspectives from many Penn State instructors.

The third in a series of reports dealing with the views of students and faculty about undergraduate
education at Penn State.

Penn State Teacher II 1997. Compendium of teaching tips and advice from seasoned faculty and graduate students. Includes sections on Course design, matching teaching methods with learning objectives, teaching large courses, evaluating student learning, collecting feedback, sample syllabi, feedback questionaires, grading standards, plagiarism, teaching philosophies.
Authored by D. Enerson, R. Neill Johnson, Susannah Milner, and Kathryn M. Plank.

An eight question survey for students to assess how they prepared for a class and how they rate the difficulty of the exam.

Intended audience: faculty developers. Teaching and faculty development philosophy of R. Neill Johnson, Although he is no longer at the Schreyer Institute, his statement provides a useful example.

Writing effective and useful additional questions can be challenging. Some of the most common mistakes in writing effective items are listed in this document using examples of Likert Scale items from the SRTEs. These pitfalls also apply to yes/no questions and open-ended questions. We recommend testing the questions with students before adding them to the Additional Questions section.

A handout that provides information and exercises on how to plan an effective class session.

This is a worksheet that includes the reasons why students might be misbehaving in large classes and strategies for addressing the incivility.

A self-paced module focusing on the design of pedagogically effective PowerPoint presentations.

Overview of best practices for using PowerPoint as an instructional tool. Handout includes numerous tips and illustrative slides focused on: debate about the proper role of PowerPoint in education; using the assertion-evidence model in slide design in order to promote learning; making user-friendly choices about graphic design.

This book is a collection of ten articles from college science professors who use investigative learning (also known as inquiry-based instruction) to help students understand how science works. The articles explain how students--including non-majors--can learn to do real-world science.

These guidelines help faculty preparing their SRTEs (student ratings) for review by an academic administrator or a faculty promotion committee. This document includes:
1) Guidelines for preparing to undergo a review of your SRTEs & students written feedback;
2) a sample annotation (aka, abstract, summary), and
3) a template for analyzing written feedback into themes.

Many instructors feel that the student ratings process is something 'done to' them. One way that instructors can take control of the process is to systematically approach the ratings and the accompanying written feedback by analyzing the ratings and identifying themes in the feedback. This document provides guidelines for preparing student ratings & feedback for a review, including an example of a one-page annotation for a fictional course to accompany raw data and a template for identifying key themes. At Penn State, this self assessment cannot be included in the official Promotion and Tenure dossier, it can guide the administrator's assessment letter or guide their summary the written comments for the faculty.

A 5-step problem-solving guideline resource to help students learn to solve problems like experts. Developed in physics education through a study of expert problem solvers who passed through 5 steps without realizing they did so. This document presents the same five-step process in three different levels of detail. Each can be adapted to reflect disciplinary nomenclature for each step. Students love this model because they can use it in other courses, even if the instructor doesn't!

A problem solving scale with 5 levels of expertise.

This document describes the process of writing problems for use in helping students learn course material through problem-based learning.

List the program outcomes that are addressed in a course and identify the specific student work in the course that can be used to document evidence of achievement for each relevant outcome.

This document describes each step in the program assessment or learning outcomes assessment process beginning with developing goals and ending with developing a plan for ongoing assessment. Included are instructions for how to develop learning goals and learning objectives as well as how to check for alignment between courses and learning objectives. Additional steps include choosing evidence to assess learning objectives and interpreting the results of the assessment.

A one page worksheet that to list program goals and then identify existing evidence for obtaining goals.

Promoting Supportive Academic Environments for Faculty with Mental Illnesses: Resource Guide and Suggestions for Practice. This guide focuses on ways to make college and university campuses more accessible for faculty with mental disabilities. It provides concrete suggestions for creating a “culture of access” by offering effective strategies for promoting inclusive language, managing accommodations, and revising policies around recruitment, hiring, and leaves of absence. The guide provides a review research on the experiences of academic faculty with mental illnesses and recommendations for academic administrators and colleagues to promote a more welcoming work environment in higher education.

Example goals (from the discipline of psychology) for program assessment

This document provides guidelines to help determine whether information is "in the public domain," and is not subject to copyright laws.

A list of SoTL journals compiled by librarians at Illinois State University. These journals are not STEM-specific, but some of their articles do address STEM teaching topics.

This is an electronic handbook on how to successfully use teams in instruction.