USC Excellence in Teaching Initiative

CET supports the USC Excellence in Teaching Initiative through information, resources and services, development opportunities, customizable evaluation tools, and consultation. Below are links to relevant CET offerings and USC documents.

The USC Excellence in Teaching Initiative

USC’s Excellence in Teaching Initiative strives to promote teaching excellence in the same way USC promotes research excellence. The initiative’s model focuses on: Defining, Developing, Evaluating, and Rewarding Teaching Excellence. The goals are to:
  1. Provide greater support to all faculty in developing evidence-based teaching practices 
  2. Evaluate teaching quality equitably, rigorously, and systematically through peer review processes that use evidence-based criteria in our teaching excellence definitions
  3. Reward teaching leadership and excellence, as well as investment in developing one’s own and evaluating peers’ teaching, in serious and tangible ways

USC schools are in the process of creating their own discipline-specific plans that define teaching excellence in their field, and use those criteria to develop, evaluate, and reward excellence in teaching for their faculty. Central university support structures have been built to assist schools in this process, including a university-level definition of excellence in teaching, teaching development institutes for faculty at each career stage, online teaching resources, individual and group consultations, peer review resources that are downloadable and editable, and training on peer review tools.

Definition of Excellence in Teaching

USC Definition of Excellence in Teaching

Faculty Development Opportunities

CET pedagogy institutes for faculty at all career stages:

Consultation with CET Instructional Designers

Consultation with CET Faculty Fellows

Course design resources

Teaching practice resources

USC Teaching Policies and Expectations – A video summary of essential USC teaching practices

Education Research Bibliography

Peer Evaluation Resources

Classroom Observation

Syllabus/Course Materials Review

Assessment and Grading Practices

Teaching Statements

Peer-Evaluation Process Flowcharts

Training for Faculty Peer Evaluators

  • CET facilitates norming workshops for faculty on peer-review tools to maximize the validity and reliability of teaching evaluations, upon request

Faculty Reward Structures

Provost’s statement recognizing teaching faculty

Appointment, promotions, and tenure policy (see section 8.8.2)

USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching

University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

School-Based Teaching Plans

Each USC school will have its own plan—grounded in discipline-based best teaching practices—to define, develop, evaluate, and reward teaching excellence. School plans align with USC’s precepts for the teaching initiative, which are:

  • Teaching excellence should be defined using evidence-based criteria and teaching practices
  • Faculty should be offered various ongoing development opportunities to successfully reach those criteria
  • Teaching excellence should be evaluated primarily through rigorous, criterion-based peer review, just as research excellence is
    • Peer review can occur through various measures, including classroom observation, syllabus and course materials review, assessment and grading review, teaching reflection statements or activities reports, or other review processes, as appropriate for each school’s teaching contexts
    • Faculty should be trained to use peer-review tools to increase the validity and reliability of evaluations, and to reduce bias
    • Faculty should receive bias training to heighten awareness of biased responses during evaluations
  • Student evaluations should be used to assess students’ learning experiences in the classroom, as one measure of a student engagement category in teaching evaluation portfolios
  • Faculty should be incentivized and rewarded in serious, tangible ways for teaching excellence and leadership, as well as for investing in their own teaching development and evaluating their peers’ teaching, just as development, peer review, excellence, and leadership is rewarded in research

Teaching plan template provided to schools

Schools have the option of using or adapting centrally developed teaching excellence criteria, training, and evaluation resources for their plans, if they wish.

What Peer Institutions Are Doing

Publications exploring teaching initiatives in higher education