ERIC Review Faculty Evaluation: A Response to Competing Values

Article excerpt

The author reviews the literature on faculty evaluation to define how different purposes (formative and summative) and competing values (those of administrators and those of faculty) have produced two approaches to the task. A procedural approach relies upon both self-evaluation and appraisals by peers, administrators, and students. The developmental approach rests upon teaching portfolios, dossiers, and self-evaluations. The author defines similarities and differences between both approaches and illustrates their use with examples from the literature.

Using faculty evaluations as a tool to address concerns about faculty quality, institutional accountability, and educational improvement continues to be of the utmost importance to community colleges across the United States. Nevertheless, using faculty evaluations to assess the work of full-time faculty can be a difficult issue because college administrators and faculty members often have different perceptions about why an appraisal process is implemented.

Community college administrators share a belief that their institutions should be stable, efficient, predictable, accountable, and in control of their faculty and staff. Faculty members, on the other hand, generally share a belief that administrators should be more willing to share resources and power, allow for creative growth and development in teaching, and allow for greater adaptability in showcasing their professional growth. These fundamental differences are what Quinn (1988) calls "competing values." Quinn asserts that,

   We want our organizations to be adaptable and flexible, but we also want
   them to be stable and controlled. We want growth, resource acquisition, and
   external support, but we also want tight information management and formal
   communication. We want an emphasis on the value of human resources, but we
   also want an emphasis on planning and goal setting (p. 49).

Given the perceived importance of faculty evaluation in community colleges, this ERIC review focuses on answering a central question: What impact have the competing values of community college administrators and faculty members had on faculty evaluation? This review will discuss two outcomes of competing values on faculty evaluation programs. The first outcome is that additional issues have been added to the debate over the perceived purpose of faculty evaluation. The second outcome is that two broad approaches to evaluating faculty have emerged, each seeking to address the competing values of faculty and administrators.

The Purpose of Evaluation

Any discussion of the approaches used to assess faculty must begin with a clear understanding of what faculty evaluation is designed to achieve. Despite the steps taken by community college administrators to show institutional accountability or to provide feedback to faculty members about their performance, it is widely agreed that the primary purpose of the evaluation is to aid administrators in reaching formative and summative goals.

A formative evaluation, as described by Centra (1993a), "is used to improve teaching performance; the information is given to teachers, whether it is obtained from students, colleagues, or faculty development specialists, and is meant to bring about positive changes. In contrast, summative evaluation is used to make personnel decisions--to hire, promote, grant tenure, or give a merit raise" (p. 5). Additionally, Smith (as cited in Rifkin, 1995) observed that "faculty evaluation has a formative purpose--the results are used to support faculty development, growth, and self-improvement. On the other hand, faculty evaluation has a summative purpose--the results are used to make personnel decisions on tenure, promotion, reappointment, and salary" (p. 64).

The dual purposes served by faculty evaluations continue to be a source of controversy. In his review of the literature on faculty and administrator evaluation, Palmer (1983) says, "faculty evaluation systems often have two contradictory purposes: to enhance faculty development efforts by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of individual instructors and to determine whether the employment of a faculty member should be continued or terminated" (p. …