Identifying the best teaching faculty

Your candidate looks good on paper, interviewed well, and has teaching experience listed on his/her CV. But, can he or she teach well? There’s a simple way to find out. Ask each of your final candidates for faculty positions to teach a “micro-lesson” to your search committee. Not only are micro-lessons the perfect way to find out if a candidate can handle a real class and organize a cohesive lesson plan, they are actually fun to attend because your team gets to act like college students again.  

The best micro-lessons are 20-minutes long and complete from beginning to end.  Here’s what you should expect from a great micro-lesson:

The candidate will

  • start with measurable learning objectives
  • do a complete cycle with an introduction, middle, and conclusion
  • end with a review of the learning objectives

The micro-lesson should be interactive—not just lecture--asking the “class” open ended questions. The prospective professor should be able to manage the class and keep it focused. Also, he/she should give appropriate feedback comments to class members. The candidate should demonstrate skills in using the equipment properly. Finally, the best micro-lessons are designed with creativity, offering up an engaging learning activity for your participation.  

The best way to assess a micro-lesson for effectiveness is to create a rubric the team can use. Afterward, use the graded rubrics to discuss the micro-lesson with the search team.  Did the candidate pass, or will some professional development be needed?

You may be wondering if a 20-minute lesson is doable. The answer is yes. If the professor is organized, has put together a well thought-out lesson plan, and has practiced, twenty minutes is all you need. For some students, chunked lesson plans are all they want—or are willing to sit through.     

Patsy Zettler is an educator, instructional designer, and writer for higher education management.

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