Assessment Methods Study

How do you evaluate speakers, presenters, trainers, teachers, and anyone else who communicates to groups? Typically, the assessment is taken from the perspective of the audience. But research shows that by using additional forms of evaluation, such as views of managers or colleagues (peers), and even self-assesment, one can gain a better sense of a speaker’s effectiveness.

Assessment of Teaching Effectiveness in U.S. Dental Schools and the Value of Triangulation

Leila Jahangiri, D.M.D., M.M.Sc.; Thomas W. Mucciolo, B.B.A.; Mijin Choi, D.D.S., M.S.; Andrew I. Spielman, D.M.D., Ph.D.
Journal of Dental Education, June 2008, Volume 72, Number 6, p 707-718

Linked article: Reprinted by permission of Journal of Dental Education, Volume 72, Number 6, June 2008.
© 2008 by the American Dental Education Association.


Evaluations are assessment tools that are used to judge speaking, presenting, or teaching performances in many environments. In education, student evaluations are used to assess teachers. Similarly, in business, audience evaluations are used to rate presenters. In both cases the analysis of the speaker is from the perspective of the group. But there are other methods of evaluation, such as peer review and self-assessment which, if used properly, can offer a greater picture of a speaker’s performance. Using all three methods of evaluation is called TRIANGULATION. While this article focuses on evaluation methods for teachers, the findings are applicable to all those who wish to gain a more complete perspective of a speaker’s effectiveness, based on observations from audiences, peers and self.

The purpose of this study was to identify commonly used methods of assessing teaching effectiveness and to suggest the use of a triangulation model, which has been advocated in the literature on performance assessment as an optimal approach for evaluating teaching effectiveness. The study was done at New York University College of Dentisty, where accessibilty to dental school administrators and department chairs made the study possible. However, the findings apply to anyone seeking to improve the scope and qualtiy of speaker evaluations.

A twelve-question survey was sent to all U.S. dental schools to identify evaluation methods as well as to find evidence of triangulation. The majority of the schools used student evaluations (81 percent) and peer reviews (78 percent). A minority of schools reported using self-evaluations (31 percent). Less than one in five dental schools reported using all three strategies to achieve triangulation (19 percent).


The findings suggest that a small percent of dental schools use all three methods of asssesment (triangulation). While further study into other enviroments is needed, it is conceviable that many organizations, beyond academics, such as corporate and govenement, may be less stringent in the evaluation of speakers, presenters and trainers; and, therefore may be less inclined to employ a triangualtion model.

However, organizations should implement a triangulation process, in which evaluation data are obtained from students (audiences), peers (managers), and self to provide a comprehensive and composite assessment of presentation effectiveness.

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