Assessing Teacher Quality

Assessing teacher quality is complex, and there is no consensus on how this is best done. The PhysTEC project considers a variety of factors when assessing the quality of the teachers it prepares.

Assessing your teachers' course of study. Physics teachers should have a major, minor, or equivalent in physics. Download a description of a typical minor at a PhysTEC Supported Site.

Assessing your teachers' content preparation. Giving a research-based, validated assessment in the introductory courses that future teachers take gives an indication of the effectiveness of these courses. A variety of assessment instruments are available one pages hosted by North Carolina State University and University of Maryland.

According to a seminal paper published in the American Journal of Physics by Richard Hake, "interactive engagement" instruction results in measurably higher learning gains on the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) than does traditional, lectured-based instruction. On the principle that teachers teach as they are taught, PhysTEC strongly endorses interactive instruction methods in content courses that teachers take.

Assessing your teachers' students' conceptual understanding. Assessing learning gains in your teachers' classrooms is the gold standard, but is also a major undertaking.

Use formative assessment of pedagogy as a mentoring tool. The Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) and other observation instruments can provide a basis for discussions about teaching methods. Mentors who use formative assessments must be sure to emphasize that the purpose of the assessment is to help the teacher improve his or her craft, and not simply to "grade" the teacher's performance.