Evaluating Faculty Performance

By Carol L. Colbeck | Go to book overview

Changing Roles and Responsibilities. Teaching competes with other faculty work such as research and service in allocation of faculty time (Austin, 1996; Clark, 1987; Fairweather, 1996). However, several influential reports (for example, Bennett, 1984; Boyer, 1987, 1990; National Institute of Education, 1984) refocused institutional attention and resources on evaluation, improvement, and reward of faculty as teachers. Faculty themselves indicate they value their teaching responsibilities highly. In 1998, 72.8 percent of 33,785 faculty at 378 colleges and universities indicated that their interests were “very heavily in” or “leaning toward” teaching, while only 27.1 percent indicated the same primary interest in research (Sax, Astin, Korn, and Gilmartin, 1999). Faculty interest in teaching persists despite evidence that, across institutional types and different fields of study, faculty who spend the least time on teaching and the most on research receive the highest salaries (Fairweather, 1996).

A new multidimensional view of scholarship that embraces teaching as well as research is changing how people view and value faculty roles and responsibilities (Boyer, 1990; Hutchings and Shulman, 1999; Kreber, 2001; Kreber and Cranton, 2000; Paulsen, 2001; Paulsen and Feldman, 1995b; Rice, 1996). For example, twenty-six professional societies published discipline-specific rationales for restructuring faculty roles and responsibilities to evaluate and reward teaching in ways comparable to research (Diamond and Adam, 2000). In addition, faculty face growing expectations to create student-centered classroom learning environments, focus on active learning, use techniques of classroom assessment and research, and develop pedagogical content knowledge, even though faculty rewards are rarely linked to such teaching innovations (Lazerson, Wagener, and Shumanis, 2000).

Contextual and Flexible Expectations. An institution’s mission and goals provide the framework for most discussions about expectations of and by faculty (Braskamp and Ory, 1994; Cashin, 1996; Johnson and Ryan, 2000), but institutional goals are communicated through departments. Each department has a culture with situation-specific goals, within which faculty expectations are established (Austin, 1996; Cavanagh, 1996). Disciplinary differences affect the relative emphases on teaching and research, goals of undergraduate education, perspectives on curriculum, teaching and students, teaching methods and practices, attitudes toward the improvement of teaching, students’ ratings of teachers, and students’ beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning (Braxton and Hargens, 1996; Cashin, 1995; Paulsen and Wells, 1998; Smart, Feldman, and Ethington, 2000). Disciplinary differences also affect the nature and construction of pedagogical content knowledge as well as views of what constitutes effective teaching and how it should be evaluated (Hutchings and Shulman, 1999; Shulman, 1993).

Faculty and administrators should discuss expectations, particularly in department units where cultures of institutions and disciplines intersect

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