College of Arts and Sciences
Chair Leadership Development Workshop

Workshop #1: Faculty Evaluations

The College of Arts & Sciences hosted a chair leadership development workshop on faculty evaluations, January 19, 2012. Click on the topics below to view helpful tips from the workshop.

Special thanks to

Moderator:
Joy Clay, Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies

Panelists:

  • Ralph Albanese, Chair of Foreign Languages and Literature
  • Matthias Kaelberer, Chair of Political Science
  • Abby Parrill, Chair of Chemistry


Why is the faculty evaluation process important?
  • Provides official documentation of the faculty member's goals and accomplishments
  • Gives specific feedback about strengths, priorities, and opportunities for growth
  • Used by University reviewers in tenure and promotion decisions
  • Forms basis for the decision whether or not to reappoint tenure track faculty and instructors
  • Creates the opportunity for collaborative goal-setting
  • Presents the faculty member with an opportunity to discuss the department's direction and needs
  • Helps set the agenda on where to revise/update departmental tenure and promotion guidelines
  • Affords the chair important information on faculty accomplishments that can be shared with the wider university

 

How does the overall evaluation process differ across departments?
  • The number of evaluations conducted by each chair ranges from about 6 to over 50 and that magnitude influences the processes chairs select to use.
  • One large department with multiple concentrations uses an advisory council to review faculty SETES and provide the chair with input which is taken into account when the chair composes the narrative. The chair also reviews all faculty data independently.
  • In small departments it's not hard for the chair to do the evaluations him/herself. In fact, in some departments there is resistance by faculty to be involved in faculty evaluations. They think it is solely the chair's responsibility.
  • Some departments with assistant professors have senior faculty meet to review and discuss the progress of all tenure track faculty.
  • The evaluation process in each department reflects the norms and expectations that have developed over time, disciplinary values, and university requirements.

 

What kinds of data are available and how are they collected?
  • Student evaluations of teaching and CVs are available on-line.
  • Faculty should update their on-line CVs in preparation for the annual evaluation.
  • Course success rate reports are available on-line through the Office of Institutional Research.
  • Some departments have peer evaluations of teaching which are taken into account during annual review.
  • Formats for faculty data collection are unique to each department, varying from very structured to more narrative
    • Some departments use the Planning & Activity form (Word document) available on the College website.
    • The Biology department developed multi-year spreadsheet (Excel document) which captures summary data at the top and evaluation data at the bottom. The multi-year format is useful for tracking change over time. This document is also available on the College website.
  • Documentation also varies. Chairs may or may not request to see copies of research products.
  • Even within one discipline, there are often different subareas with different journals and different "valued" research products. So the chair needs to be aware of those respective differences and review materials accordingly.
  • For interdisciplinary work, the chair needs to take into account the unique features of the collaboration as well as the differences between the involved units/disciplines.

 

What is the role of goal-setting in the evaluation process?
  • Goal-setting should be an ongoing process throughout the year
  • Encourage the employee to set individual goals
  • Goals should be realistic (achievable) and limited in number
  • Use the face-to-face meeting to formalize what the faculty member and chair can do to support faculty growth
  • Collectively, the individual goals can serve as the basis for other departmental reporting, e.g., program reviews, accreditation, etc.

 

How do you keep the conversation focused on performance, not the score?
  • Each discipline has its own norms that guide expectations
  • Positive feedback should be addressed first
  • Pay attention to phrasing
  • Recommendations for improvement will be received better if stated in a positive manner
  • Strategically consider the scoring system. Ideally, there should be a range of scores in each department that reflects disciplinary expectations. When we have a merit raise cycle, the annual evaluation scores serve as a key factor in the distribution of raises.
  • Be prepared to provide an explanation of the score
  • Faculty have the opportunity to provide written comments on the evaluation document when they acknowledge the evaluation

 

Should you follow up throughout the year?
  • Grab opportunities to have hallway discussions or drop in on your faculty in their offices both to celebrate accomplishments and to give advice
  • Consider using mentors to help faculty improve on gaps identified during the annual evaluation
  • By taking evaluation seriously, a chair has the opportunity to communicate what is important, how the faculty member fits with the priorities of the department, college, and university; and why strategies for improvement will strengthen the unit

Recommended reading (Copies available for checkout from Dean's office):

Buller, J. (2006) The Essential Department Chair: A Practical Guide to Administration. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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