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Release: July 6, 2000

UI offers online tool to help teachers define course objectives

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa's Center for Teaching has unveiled a new online tool to help teachers set clearer objectives for their courses.

The Teaching Goals Inventory was developed more than a decade ago by Thomas Angelo, an associate professor and director of DePaul University's School for New Learning, and Patricia Cross, professor emeritus of the University of California-Berkeley education department. But only recently has the assessment moved online and become fully interactive, thanks to the efforts of Tom Rocklin, a professor of education and director of the Center for Teaching.

The TGI is available at

"Our contribution was to put the TGI online in a form that makes it easy to complete and allows the computer to generate a score report that is more complete than typically available with hand-scoring," said Rocklin.

By responding to 53 items about a particular course, educators in higher education generate scores that can benefit them in three ways. The scores can help teachers clarify what it is they are trying to accomplish in the course; they can find classroom assessment techniques to determine how well they are achieving their teaching and learning goals; and they can use the assessment results as a starting point for discussion of teaching and learning goals among colleagues.

For instance, the final question in the assessment asks teachers to select one statement that best describes how they see their primary role in the classroom. The five possible answers are: providing a role model for students; helping students develop higher-order thinking skills; preparing students for jobs/careers; fostering student development and personal growth; and helping students develop basic learning skills.

"A fair number of people who have filled out the assessment online found that their main stated goals in the last question didn't match their answers to the previous 52 questions," Rocklin said. "So the results helped them reassess what it was they hoped to accomplish in the course."

Rocklin says the assessment can be especially useful to faculty who are developing new courses, revising an existing courses, writing or re-writing their philosophy of teaching or participating in a curriculum review.

He said that 442 users have logged on to the site since he advertised its availability through a nationwide listserv.