Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Setting the Groundwork for Quality Faculty Development Evaluation: A Five-Step Approach

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Setting the Groundwork for Quality Faculty Development Evaluation: A Five-Step Approach

Article excerpt

A major challenge faced by today's faculty developers is how to move beyond the perpetual use of simplistic program evaluation practices and adopt an approach that empowers faculty developers and administrators to implement a mission-based, result-oriented program evaluation model. This article reveals the five most common elements contributing to the perpetuation of satisfaction and participation data to then illustrate a research-based five-step approach able to address these limitations in order to establish a mission-driven curricular framework for establishing and sustaining quality evaluation practices.

For decades faculty development practitioners have struggled to move beyond the perpetual use of superficial evaluation practices aimed at gathering participation, satisfaction, and self-reported data (Kucsera & Svinicki, 2010). The faculty development literature is filled with examples of interventions and evaluation measures; however, little regard is given to factors causing the perpetuation of simplistic evaluation and ways to support the establishment of quality evaluation. This article addresses the foundational elements contributing to the ongoing use of superficial evaluation and offers a five-step approach to set the groundwork for quality evaluation.

Five Foundational Elements Perpetuating Superficial Faculty Development Evaluation

A review of contemporary program evaluation literature reveals an array of factors associated with inadequate program evaluation from which five fundamental elements emerge: 1) misguiding evaluation mindsets, 2) fuzzy goals and short-aimed missions, 3) weak infrastructures, 4) ill-conceptualized curricular structures, and 5) ill-conceived evaluation frameworks (Guskey, 2000; Killion, 2008; Lambur, 2008; Posavac & Carey, 2003). Nationwide studies investigating ongoing faculty development evaluation practices corroborate these findings (Hines 2009/ 2011a; Woodward, 2013; Van Note Chism & Szabó, 1997). The following section discusses these five elements and gives insight into areas in need of restructuring in order to set the groundwork for quality evaluation.

Misguiding Evaluation Mindsets

Because beliefs inform our actions, the primary determinant of evaluation quality is the evaluator's mental model of evaluation (Lambur, 2008). Evaluation mindsets are strongly influenced by the evaluator's disciplinary background, past evaluation experiences, and administrative accountability (Guskey, 2000; Lambur, 2008; Posavac & Carey, 2003). Each of these factors can lead to limiting attitudes, assumptions, and conceptions regarding evaluation.

Disciplinary background. Faculty developers come from various disciplines with minimal training in academic development resulting in a heavy reliance on disciplinary knowledge (Van Note Chism, 2011). When charged with evaluation, one's discipline-specific epistemological and methodological orientation informs their evaluation practices. Douglah, Boyd, and Gundermann (2003) categorize these orientations into doubters, proctors, scholars, and practitioners. Proctors monitor attendance and levels of participant satisfaction. Doubters believe deep impact measures are not possible and too complex. Scholars believe impact evaluation has to be designed as an empirical research study. Practitioners, the ideal evaluator, believe evaluation needs to be practical and designed for the organizational setting. Findings from statewide and national studies suggest the attitudes of faculty developers tend to represent proctors, doubters, and scholars where minimal attempts are made to move beyond superficial measures because deep measures are perceived to be either unnecessary or impossible (Van Note Chism & Szabó, 1997; Hines 2009/2011a).

Past evaluation experiences. Faculty developers' past experiences with evaluation and organizational politics oftentimes lead to dysfunctional evaluation attitudes. The six most common dysfunctional beliefs noted by Posavac and Carey (2003) and observed in faculty developers (Hines, 2009/2011a) are: 1) evaluation inhibits innovation, 2) inquiring into changes in practice is unprofessional, 3) evaluation can lead to program termination, 4) evaluation findings may be misused by administration, 5) evaluation drains resources, and 6) evaluation has little impact. …

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