Teacher Behaviors Checklist for Improving Teaching

Posted on January 16th, 2012 by

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what actions to take in response to scores on student evaluations of teaching. For example, if you receive low scores on “How well do you think the instructor accomplished (is accomplishing) the objectives of the course?,” what exactly do you change for next semester? The Teacher Behaviors Checklist (TBC) attempts to address this problem by choosing qualities that are typically displayed by “master teachers” and tying them to concrete behaviors that students can observe and professors can control, for example, here are 3 of the 28 from the checklist.

  • Punctuality/Manages Class Time (Arrives to class on time/early, dismisses class on time, presents relevant materials in class, leaves time for questions, keeps appointments, returns work in a timely way)
  • Promotes Class Discussion (Asks controversial or challenging questions during class, gives points for class participation, involves students in group activities during class)
  • Creative and Interesting (Experiments with teaching methods; uses technological devices to support and enhance lectures; uses interesting, relevant, and personal examples; not monotone)

Students rate their instructor on a 5-point Likert scale from “never exhibits” to “frequently exhibits” on the 28 qualities. Preliminary comparisons between scores on the TBC and traditional student evaluations suggest that they are positively correlated, but if  a professor scores low on one TBC items (e.g., Promotes Class Discussion), unlike traditional evaluations, the professor is better able to make specific changes such as trying more group activities the following semester. As the authors of the checklist explain,

…the TBC will likely be of aid to teachers who wish to improve on a low score on any of the 28 items because items on the TBC have behavioral anchors. Teachers can refer to and adopt these behaviors in an effort to improve their teaching. Other teaching evaluation instruments usually lack such anchors, using instead qualitative personality descriptors that may be difficult for teachers to translate meaningfully to change their classroom behaviors.

If you are interested in using the TBC in your classroom, Michael Amlung has developed an Excel spreadsheet that auto generates nice summary reports of your student data from the checklist.


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