I admit this is overdue but it is the last discussion of Bain’s book, What the Best College Teachers Do.

In chapter 7 Bain discusses how do the best college teachers evaluate their students?  In re-reading this chapter I have been provoked in a number of ways.  To summarise the chapter though Bain recognises two approaches to evaluation “performance-based” and “learning based”.  From this flows the idea of teacher evaluations and how these should be conducted and what should be asked.

Performance-based evaluation is the idea that the points matter.  It is more important that you get something in on time and get the most points.  Learning-based evaluation is demonstrating that you have learned something, particularly what is expected.

I can think of some of my first year classes in my undergraduate degree and remember how we had multiple choice answers and had a right answer and we got the points.  A test scheduled for 3 hours took most of us around 50 minutes to answer in total.  And we were not allowed to leave the room for the first hour.

Then I think about the comments on one of my Master’s papers that I came across last night.  “In the end I think you have got it”.  It reflects that the lecturer thinks I understand the material.  I still battle with some of the material.

I know I need to be more creative about learning-based evaluation of my students and this chapter gives some basic ideas.  I need to think of some debates I know about assessment but also about increasing complexity.

Bain concludes the book by stating that people in the academic teaching world really do care about teaching.  We just need to keep getting better at it.  This to me seems a great place to stop as well.