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.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
If evaluation sounds good in theory but feels bad in practice, it may be that you or others are operating under some common misconceptions.
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.
The argument persists: teaching and research are complementary—each in some synergistic way builds on and supports the other. Standing against the argument is an impressive, ever-growing array of studies that consistently fail to show any linkage between teaching effectiveness and research productivity. Because administrators have a vested interest in faculty being able to do both well, the two sides continue to exchange arguments and accusations in a debate that has grown old, tired, and terribly nonproductive.
Now that I’m one of those “senior” faculty, I hear a lot of digs about faculty who need to retire … deadwood, still standing but hopefully about to topple. The belief that the teaching effectiveness of most “seniors” declines is strong and persistent. Is it true or yet another one of those academic myths?
Unless they have a real problem with how the course was run, most students fill out end-of-course evaluations so quickly there’s often very little valuable information in them. Here are two ways that Wayne Hall, psychology professor at San Jacinto College in Texas, elicits helpful feedback on his courses:
Colleagues can play such an important role in our development as teachers, yet most of the time we don’t make use of them in ways that really help us grow pedagogically. We spend time with faculty who inhabit offices near ours sharing pedagogical pleasantries, noting our successes and those of our students, or complaining about the lack of institutional support for teaching or the poor performance of this year’s entering class.
Larry Ragan, director of faculty development for Penn State World Campus, may have given a new spin to the old expression “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Except, unlike the philosophical musing that’s become immortalized as one of those motivational posters, Ragan’s focus is on improving online learning.
Teaching and learning support professionals, particularly those who must perform miracles as a “Department of One,” can have one of the most challenging jobs on campus. They not only support the course design, content delivery strategies, technology integration, and training/orientation for faculty and students in online learning programs (asynchronous and synchronous formats), but they also support all other teaching/learning needs for classroom, blended, and any other teaching environment. This professional may be an instructional designer, an educational technologist, or very often, a designated faculty member with some or all of these skills.