Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence 3

Submission Prepoposal January 2020
Selected for participation, and assigned to Learning Community 5-Spring 2021.

Team: Dellinger (Assoc Dean-CLA, Prof Sociology; PI); Symula (Instructor, Biology; SP); Pedigo (Prof Chem; SP); Noonan (Chair, Biology; SP); Tschumper (Chair, Chem; SP); Edney (Ctr Incl & Cross-Cult Engagement; SP); Mason (CERE; Evaluation); Hale (Dir Research Resources; SP)

Chosen Emphasis: Meaningful evaluation of effective and inclusive teaching, which will inform faculty practices, including promotion and tenure decisions.

Inclusive Excellence at the University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi is actively pursuing inclusive excellence through major institutional change in a state recognized for persistent poverty and racial inequality. For decades after the violently protested integration of UM in 1962, individual faculty and administrators have worked to create an inclusive climate and build programs to open doors for underrepresented students. We are now on the cusp of more coordinated institutional change with the 2017 establishment of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Support is in place to advance inclusive teaching in STEM and we are ready and eager to do this work. Joining the HHMI IE3 learning community would maximize the impact of existing campus diversity and inclusion efforts and help center the role of faculty.
Inclusive excellence at UM will require transformative and coordinated work at a variety of institutional levels. We need to build bridges between efforts to enhance student success and belonging led by upper administration, student affairs, and faculty. True inclusive excellence means that this work is intentionally pursued, highly valued, and continually supported by the institution. We will be collectively successful when there is regular recognition and celebration of these efforts as a central part of our mission and processes.

Our Proposed Strategy: Focus on meaningful evaluation of effective and inclusive teaching.
Underpinning this choice is the view that meaningful teacher evaluation is (1) credible—it measures what matters and measures it well, (2) actionable—it generates feedback that instructors can immediately use to improve their practice, and (3) ongoing—it is not a one-off event but an opportunity to spark continuous reflection and improvement.

In pursuit of that goal, we propose to:

  1. Undertake a collaborative, “bottom-up” process—informed by research on using citizen juries —to draft a set of criteria and standards for assessing inclusive teaching specific to the context of Mississippi.
  2. Next, we propose to refine this list of draft criteria and standards, then develop and validate a set of evaluation tools (e.g. observation rubrics; surveys; in-class ‘short form’ feedback surveys) that can be used to assess inclusive teaching. The purpose of this component is to (a) collect baseline data and (b) develop valid and reliable tools that can be used more broadly to assess excellence in inclusive teaching in Mississippi.
  3. Additionally, we will pilot and refine an ongoing feedback cycle that includes (a) (close-to) real-time feedback dashboards that report on inclusive teaching performance and (b) confidential support mechanisms, such as a coach or peer mentor. Under this approach, the mentor would work with faculty to generate strategies for improvement. This is based on research that suggests effective teacher evaluation must include feedback on which specific aspects of a teacher’s practice would benefit from growth and development—and provide support for faculty to improve.
  4. Finally, we will pilot and refine use of an annual feedback report, at the department level, which represents how much these inclusive excellence data (a) have been accessed by administrators, and (b) how much faculty performance in this domain accounts for tenure and promotion.