Texas Tech University

Defining Teaching Excellence


One important component of the Teaching Evaluation Initiative is to create a university-wide definition of teaching excellence; after all, we cannot assess what we do not define. The proposed definition is the result of efforts from a sub-committee led by Teaching Academy members Courtney Meyers (Agricultural Education and Communications) and Lisa Low (Public Relations & Strategic Communication Management). We acknowledge the contributions from faculty across campus for the past year+, participants in a workshop held as a part of the 2023 Burns Conference, and a survey of Teaching Academy members in December 2023.

In defining teaching excellence, the definition should be shaped and customized by disciplinary context, modality, student characteristics, and many other factors. With this acknowledgement, the definition and key pillars serve as a starting point for conversations about what teaching excellence looks like in various academic areas. The definition is crafted around four pillars of excellence defined by the following key words: Student-Centered, Intentional, Evidence-based, and Engaging. The definition focuses on classroom, lab-based, and/or studio teaching, whether face-to-face, online, or hybrid, and these pillars could also be applied to other forms of teaching, such as mentoring, undergraduate research, or study abroad. The pillars below often complement each other, and areas of overlap do exist.

The goal of this definition is to create a broad, aspirational definition of teaching excellence that brings a common language to our conversations about teaching at Texas Tech University. The definition and key pillars can also serve as a starting point for more specific conversations about teaching excellence in a disciplinary context. A revised definition might be created by a department and used to establish expectations for the department's teaching culture. In addition, the definition might also be used centrally as a guideline for campus teaching awards, in the Teaching Academy membership application, and/or as the basis for self-reflection of teaching.

This definition has been endorsed by the Teaching Academy Executive Council, Chair Council, Associate Deans Council, Academic Council, and the Provost. We are currently vetting the definition through various committees and councils for further endorsement. If you have feedback or comments, please feel free to reach out to Suzanne Tapp.

Examples of Teaching Definition Assessment

Texas Tech University is committed to student-centered, intentional, evidence-based, and engaging teaching and learning. 


Excellent teachers tailor learning to be collaborative (when appropriate) and fair, ensuring every student is empowered to take an active role in their own learning. They strive to create learning environments that support student success and wellness and anticipate a variety of life experiences, learning histories, identities, and perspectives. These teachers have high expectations for students and provide opportunities for them to convey their learning.


Excellent teachers are intentional in how they design and foster the learning experience to achieve specific goals and outcomes. Over their careers, they use a variety of instructional techniques, remain receptive to improving and innovating their teaching methods, and understand that excellent teaching is reflective and evolving.


Excellent teachers are purposeful in using best teaching practices grounded in a solid understanding of pedagogy drawn from research, experience, and professional dialogue. They seek evidence to establish and track the effectiveness of teaching methods to ensure students reach learning outcomes.


Excellent teachers help learners develop as independent, creative, and critical thinkers by actively engaging students in the learning process. These teachers develop and share their genuine interest in the topic and demonstrate the applicability of content to academic and professional pursuits.

Teaching, Learning, & Professional Development Center

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