CTAL’s Confidentiality Statement
The University of Delaware Center for Teaching & Assessment of Learning (CTAL) may collect data about your engagement with CTAL to improve services and integrate with broader university teaching and learning initiatives.
We are also committed to protecting the confidentiality of data related to our work with educators and students in compliance with university policies (Data Governance, FERPA, Information Security, Information Classification) and professional standards (such as those recommended by the Professional & Organizational Developers (POD) Network and the Association for Institutional Research).
Why We Value Confidentiality
Trusting relationships are essential for our work to be effective and meaningful, so we have a practical obligation to maintain the confidentiality of our instructors and others. Therefore, we strive to protect the information and insights that we receive in our interactions. Specifically, we understand that our role gives us privileged access to insights, experiences, and materials, including sensitive and personal information.
We Do Not Evaluate UD Faculty
CTAL is not charged with evaluating UD faculty. Moreover, we believe that evaluating UD faculty would impair our collaborative relationship. Therefore we try to not be placed into situations where we are asked or expected to evaluate faculty. Here are some examples of requests we cannot honor:
- We do not provide UD faculty with letters of recommendation or job references.
- We do not provide evaluative feedback about faculty job candidates or make recommendations to faculty search committees about specific candidates. However, we are happy to support UD faculty search committees (e.g., attend teaching demonstrations, answer candidate questions about UD teaching support and resources) as our availability permits.
- We do not conduct observations of teaching expressly for the purposes of evaluation.
CTAL’s written summaries of teaching observations are formative feedback focused on pedagogical practices, not content. As such, they cannot take the place of evaluative peer reviews conducted by faculty who have discipline-specific knowledge and experience.
What Data We Collect
If you have participated in a CTAL event, program, or consultation, then CTAL might collect information such as your UD role, name, department, courses, syllabi, assignments, student artifacts, and email address. CTAL also collects professional observations, interactions, student grades, and/or conclusions related to specific clients or cases. Such information might also be gathered, with your consent, during the assessment of UD’s General Education learning objectives or other UD educational programs. In some cases, data are volunteered by faculty and shared with CTAL staff without prior consultation. Except when explicitly noted otherwise (e.g., data related to research projects), these data may be kept indefinitely.
How We Use Data
CTAL data is an institutional asset and may be used only by authorized university entities (according to strict policy and processes established by the university). The University of Delaware uses CTAL data for:
I. Service Support
We use records of CTAL interactions to troubleshoot resource access and provide services to graduate students, faculty, and staff. We summarize these data and report on it in a number of ways, including by gender, tenure status, years of service, academic role, or course registration information (school or college, department, course).
II. Integration with Teaching and Learning Initiatives
CTAL collects some data about your use of CTAL services and programs to help improve those services and programs and integrate them with broader teaching and learning initiatives at UD. We often co-examine evidence of student learning and student feedback with instructors to compare outcomes before, during, and after an intervention, not as an evaluation of the instructor but as an evaluation of CTAL’s programs and services.
III. Institutional Planning and Reporting
UD leverages data to identify, evaluate, and respond to trends in CTAL’s program educational goals and assessment services and programs. Examples include:
- Analyzing patterns in the documentation of program educational goals and assessment practices by program type, college, or department to understand the nature of learning in various disciplines and how our services can be improved to meet those needs.
- Analyzing student grades in courses to identify courses that have historically proven challenging to enrolled students so we can invite faculty who teach those courses to avail themselves of CTAL resources and services.
IV. Research and Accreditation
UD uses summary data such as course enrollments and student grades for academic research and institutional accreditation purposes, such as:
- The regular Middle States Accreditation Self-Study process provides UD an opportunity to reflect on our academic mission and ensure that we regularly assess and document the effectiveness of our work.
- Specific educational research projects undertaken alone or in collaboration with others. As research projects typically involve faculty or students, we ensure that they adhere to appropriate ethical and legal standards including review by UD’s human subjects committee. We also ensure that research projects adhere to other appropriate standards and practices (e.g., Standards for Educational & Psychological Testing) and these may have implications for confidentiality.
Table Summarizing Data Usage
The following table summarizes how data might be used for reporting purposes (e.g., CTAL Annual Report to the Provost, data provided to the Faculty Senate), internal planning purposes, and whether or not an individual could expect their engagement to remain anonymous.
|Personal Data (e.g., name, gender)||Anonymized summary data||Anonymized summary data||X|
|Professional Data (e.g., academic role, tenure status, department)||Anonymized summary data||Anonymized summary data||X|
|Consultation Data||# of clients served, summary data (e.g., college, academic role)||Anonymized summary data (e.g., topic of discussion)||X|
|Observation Data||# of clients served, summary data (e.g., college, academic role)||Anonymized summary data (e.g., topic/reason for request)||X|
|Event/Workshop Attendance||Anonymized summary data (e.g., attendance, college, academic role)||Summary data|
When We Do Not Share Data
In general, we avoid sharing data that will be used for evaluative purposes of individual instructors. Specifically, we politely decline to provide information if contacted by a chair, dean, or other individual asking if a specific person has or has not requested or participated in a CTAL consultation. If requested, we may confirm or deny attendance at an event or workshop for which attendance was not confidential; however, we will first encourage a discussion between the relevant people. Of course, we often provide summaries of data and recommendations to specific individuals or groups who request it for their own formative purposes and they may choose to include that information in evaluative processes e.g., promotion dossier, academic program review.
How We Collect Data
Directly From Participants
CTAL receives data directly from participants who complete forms, submit requests, participate in events/programs, and so on.
From Other UD Sources
We can access and incorporate data from other units and tools at the university. Sometimes this is done to supplement data we have already collected or can collect more easily and accurately e.g., using directory information to add college and department to an existing list of faculty who participated in a program. Sometimes this is done to create new data sets or reports e.g., creating a report from the university’s data warehouse to identify courses with high proportions of first-year students for a potential program about teaching and supporting first-year students.
From External Sources
We use Google Analytics and other similar tools that document website traffic statistics and access to some resources e.g., number of responses to Qualtrics surveys, number of clicks on newsletter article links. We use the information to better understand how CTAL websites and resources are being used and improve them. For information on how the university may also collect personal data through the CTAL website, please review the Privacy Statement section of UD’s Legal Notices webpage.
How We Share CTAL Data
CTAL often engages with other University service providers, such the UD Library Museums & Press, IT-ATS, and the Office of Sustainability, to support CTAL programs and systems. For example, when you participate in our “Course Design Institute,” your identity and a record of your engagement is stored on the program’s website and/or Canvas site. To the extent possible, we strongly encourage our partners to maintain the same standards of confidentiality as we maintain for our own programs and services; however, we cannot control or dictate what other units and individuals do so we cannot always assure the same level of confidentiality used in CTAL services and programs.
Other University Units
As part of the university’s support of teaching and learning, CTAL may share anonymized data with other administrative units (e.g., Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Office of Academic Enrichment, etc.) or individuals (e.g., department chairs, deans). We strive to educate those colleagues about our confidentiality standards and the limitations of the data that we can or are willing to provide. In particular, we strongly resist sharing data that can identify specific educators or staff who have employed our services, and we resist sharing data that may be used for evaluative purposes.
Access to CTAL data is safeguarded through several mechanisms, including university policy (Data Governance, FERPA, Information Security, Information Classification) and professional standards (such as those recommended by the Professional & Organizational Developers Network and the Association for Institutional Research).
If we are ever aware of a situation that may require us to deviate from these practices, we will make that explicit as soon as practical and as explicitly as possible.
If you have questions about this statement, please let us know at CTAL-info@UDel.edu.