The peer review processes for promotion and tenure and for continuing appointment provide committees with what’s needed to make overall judgments about the quality of instruction. For teachers, however, peer reviews usually don’t contain the diagnostic, descriptive feedback they need to continue their growth and development in the classroom. The assessments are broad and in the interest of preserving collegial relationships, any negative comments lurk between the lines or in vague statements that can be interpreted variously.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
faculty promotion and tenure
I have had the privilege to be invited to many campuses to speak about strategies for incorporating a collegial-mindset within the university. A campus culture that values collegiality and civility is among the most important contributions a university can make. Academic departments recognize the desirability of a collegial environment for faculty members, students, and professional employees and that such an environment should be maintained and strengthened throughout the university. In an environment enhanced by trust, respect, and transparency faculty members can be revivified so that they can play an active and responsible role in academic matters. A collegial relationship is most effective when peers work together to carry out their duties and responsibilities in a professional manner.
Assembling the annual tenure and promotion dossier to best represent one’s teaching, research, and service can be overwhelming and anxiety-ridden for some junior faculty. Yet, prior to earning tenure, junior faculty in colleges and universities across the country spend untold hours preparing the annual dossier to present and illustrate accomplishments and productivity across teaching, research, and service.
Most universities require tenure-track faculty members to achieve in three particular domains – teaching, service, and scholarship. Scholarship provokes the most anxiety. Faculty members quickly succumb to the publish or perish syndrome; a syndrome depicted by obsessive thoughts about scholarship expectations, a frenzy to publish, restless nights, and a plethora of excuses. The antidotes cleverly identified in this article are designed to treat the publish or perish syndrome.
Department chairs and deans face many challenges in their roles. One of the most difficult is the evaluation of faculty regarding teaching effectiveness. This is particularly challenging for two reasons: (1) lack of formal preparation for instructors concerning teaching, and (2) limited choice of evaluation tools. One tool, classroom observation, can help address both of these issues and provide an objective measure of teaching effectiveness.
Personnel review binders used for retention, promotion, and tenure decisions may go the way of the typewriter as electronic portfolio systems continue to gain ground as effective, paperless solutions.
Hiring, promotion, and tenure activities are full of risk and potential landmines. Poor hiring decisions are not only costly, but the hiring process itself opens the institution up to litigation if everyone on the hiring committee is not trained properly.
In 2005, Appalachian State University established three-quarter- and full-time non-tenure-track contracts with benefits for non-tenure-track faculty members who had been teaching at least three-quarter time for three years. The move was intended to provide fair compensation and promote loyalty that might pay off in improved quality of instruction.