Criteria and Questions for Assessing a Course Portfolio


  • Does the content appear to be appropriate and relevant?
  • Is the content appropriately sequenced and paced?


  • Are the course goals and objectives clearly stated?
  • Are student assignments well-defined?
  • Are grading standards and performance expectations well-defined?


  • Are texts and other sources appropriate for the course?
  • Does the reading list reflect careful selection of sources?
  • Are reading requirements appropriate?


  • Do assignments promote critical thought and analysis?
  • Are assignments clear and well thought-out?
  • Do assignments promote course objectives?


  • Do course materials suggest creativity and flexibility?
  • Are assignments and projects varied, and can they be tailored to individual students’ interests when appropriate?
  • Have teaching materials, such as handouts, study guides, and instructional media been produced? What is their quality?

Suggested Protocol for Classroom Observations

It is recommended that the observer meet with or have an e-mail exchange with the instructor prior to the classroom observation to discuss goals for the class and give context to the class being observed. The observer and instructor also should meet as soon as possible following the observation. (See recommended questions below.)

Recommended questions for pre-observation conference:

  • What will be happening in the class that I will observe?
  • What is your goal for this class? What do you hope students will gain from this session?
  • What do you expect students to do in the class to reach these goals?
  • What can I expect you to do in class? What role will you take? What teaching methods will you use?
  • What have students been asked to do to prepare for class?
  • What was done in earlier classes to lead up to this one?
  • Will this class be typical of your teaching? If not, what will be different?
  • Is there anything specific on which you would like me to focus during the class?

Recommended questions for post-observation conference:

  • In general, how do you think the class went?
  • Did students accomplish the goals you had planned for class?
  • Is there anything that worked well for you in class today— that you particularly liked?
  • Is there anything that did not work well— that you disliked? Is this typically a problem for you?
  • What were your teaching strengths? Did you notice anything you improved or any personal goals you met?
  • What were your teaching problems?—areas that still need improvement?
  • If you could change anything about the class in retrospect, what would you change and how?
  • Do you have any suggestions or strategies for improvement?

Classroom Observation Form

Provide a detailed description for each of the following:

  1. Describe the method(s) of instruction.


  1. Describe the form and extent of student participation, as well as the apparent level of student engagement with the material.


  1. Describe the instructor’s stated goals for the class and how these relate to the goals of the course.


  1. Describe the instructor’s role in the progression of the class.


  1. To what extent were the goals of the class met?


  1. To what extent did the instructor provide an overview of the class objectives and/or transitions between topics?


  1. How clear, well-organized, and appropriate were the explanations and/or activities?


  1. Describe the types of questions the instructor employed during the class.


  1. What specific suggestions would you make to improve this instructor’s teaching?



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