Campus-Wide Definition of Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (AY2023-24)

Excellent course teaching at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is: 

  • Well-designed 
  • Well-delivered 
  • Inclusive and ethical 
  • Reflective and evolving

These four elements of teaching excellence are further defined in the context of course-based teaching on the next page. Detailed instruments for evaluation by units will refine and tailor the criteria even further, adding details that show how the general principle is manifest in that discipline. 

An excellent teacher might make a range of important contributions1 to teaching at UIUC including (but not limited to): 

  • contributing to student learning outside course environments (e.g. clubs, study abroad) 
  • developing new curricula 
  • engaging in pedagogical research and innovation 
  • mentoring or supervising undergraduate projects 
  • peer review of other instructors 
  • promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in education 
  • serving as a formal or informal mentor to students 
  • serving on and contributing to graduate student thesis/dissertation committees 
  • serving on and/or providing leadership for administrative committees that shape and oversee teaching and program coordination 
  • teaching to audiences outside the traditional Illinois student community 
  • training and supervising students in research, teaching, and/or internships 

Holistic review of teaching excellence should document and evaluate these contributions.

Excellent course-based teaching at the University of Illinois is:2


  • Creates clear learning objectives3 that are both challenging and attainable, and intersect with the overall course goals. 
  • Designs student-centered learning and assessment experiences that support the learning objectives. 
  • Provides readily available, coherently organized, and high quality course materials (including syllabi) that establish student workload, learning objectives, performance criteria, grading procedures, and class policy expectations.


  • Organizes and manages class time and students’ activities in and out of class to yield high levels of student learning. 
  • Models and fosters critical, analytical, and creative thinking. 
  • Communicates content clearly with students 
  • Has constructive and timely written and oral communication with students. 
  • Gives timely, useful, and fair feedback on activities and assignments tied to performance criteria and learning objectives. 
  • Fosters the mindset that growth is possible and ability is not fixed. 
  • Engages, challenges, and supports students cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally.

Inclusive and ethical

  • Designs instruction to be inclusive and equitable (including practices of Universal Design for Learning4), ensuring that every student can participate fully and their presence and participation is valued. 
  • Represents the diversity of the field’s practitioners, content, and applications. 
  • Acts with integrity and respect toward students. 
  • Implements course policies that are equitable and applied fairly. 

Reflective and evolving

  • Implements regularly-revised content and pedagogical techniques that are current, research-informed, rigorous, and relevant. 
  • Uses teaching development activities, evaluations, and other indicators to inform teaching practice and student learning experiences. 
  • Creates an environment that invites constructive student feedback to the instructor.


  1. While waiting for the new SFS to be available, the two global ICES scores can be used to represent whether teaching is well-designed and well-delivered. ↩︎
  2. Items are listed alphabetically. ↩︎
  3. Note that “learning objectives” should be interpreted very broadly, and not just as a list of factual content to be conveyed. ↩︎
  4. Learn more about UDL practices. ↩︎