Let’s be honest, everyone. Being a VIPEr Fellow is not always as easy as enjoying beers at Ford’s Garage in Dearborn or discussing the nuances of hard soft acid base theory while walking back to the workshop hotel in the Michigan sunshine. Being a Fellow is hard work! There are consent forms and surveys to organize, classes to video record, and conceptual questions and an ACS exam to deliver. And all of this work falls on top of teaching our usual engaging and thoughtful foundation-level courses. Some days, you may wonder if it’s all worth it.
This past summer, I immediately grasped the value of all that hard work when I saw the data streaming back to me after my first year as a Fellow. Here is a breakdown of my teaching style, as evaluated using the COPUS profile! Here is a comparison of my students’ scores on different inorganic chemistry sub-topics compared with their own assessment of their understanding! Here is a way to compare my students’ performance on the ACS Foundations of Inorganic Chemistry exam with a group of hundreds of other students across the country!
This trove of data will be invaluable to me as I prepare to teach my course again next spring. But perhaps even more important, I am looking forward to highlighting the data in any future salary review or promotion application. There is growing evidence about the dangers and biases inherent in evaluating teaching based solely on student evaluations. My participation as a VIPEr Fellow has not only provided me with concrete data about my students’ learning, but it has also provided a structure in which I can reflect carefully about my teaching and my students’ learning. I’m looking forward to building a case about my effectiveness as a teacher using data from the VIPEr Fellows project as a key component, and I remind the rest of my cohort to remember to do the same.