The use—or misuse—of student ratings of instruction (SRIs) in faculty evaluation is a frequent topic in higher education news. Unfortunately, popular press articles on the topic often garner more attention than the vast empirical literature. A recent review of the research by Linse (2017) pointed to common misperceptions about SRIs, offering administrators evidence-based advice on appropriate SRI interpretation.
Consider the experience of Jordan, a fourth-year political science major, who was told by his professor that many African-American students do not pass her class (Brooms, 2017). This stereotyping can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, or what Claude Steele describes as a “stereotype threat,” which impacts students’ performance by challenging their academic ability or competence.
Tracy Ford has just completed her PhD and is searching for a full-time position in a university. She is a much sought-after young academic as she has published six articles and presented at a national conference. Also, she has experience in teaching in an adjunct position, and her evaluations were outstanding. She is attending a national conference and is searching job listings for a position. One university catches her eye, and she is excited, as it is in the part of the country where she wants to reside, and the position sounds as if it was written specifically for her. Tracy discusses with colleagues the department where she will be if she is offered the job. The response by everyone she speaks with is the same: WARNING. TOXIC. STAY AWAY. People explain that the department is lethal and dysfunctional. Members of the department are in open warfare with each other. In sum, it is an awful place to work. She does not apply, and no one else does either.
While the words “tenure track” make it sound like there’s a smooth set of rails that will take you from hiring through to a position on the permanent tenured faculty, “tenure obstacle course” might in fact be a better description.
Accepting and sharing responsibility for creating a productive work setting within the department and institution result, at least to a great extent, from how well each member of the community carries his or her own fair share of the common workload. The challenges faced by higher education institutions in the 21st century cannot be successfully mastered, nor can the efforts of dedicated professionals be sustained when the actions of a faculty member are divisive, uncompromising, and inflexible. In a similar way, it is destructive to a department’s morale and effectiveness when one or more of its members accept a significantly lower degree of responsibility for achieving a shared purpose. These elements lie at the heart of that salient, fundamental hallmark of successful interactions in academic life that is commonly called collegiality.
Mentoring is a common yet powerful way for people to learn a variety of personal and professional skills. Most adults can identify a person who, at some time in their lives, had a significant, positive influence on them. While some…
Faculty developers across the nation are working on developing methods to evaluate their services. In 2010, the 35th Annual Professional Organizational and Development Network Conference identified assessing the impact of faculty development as a key priority. It was this growing demand that spawned my interest in conducting a 2007 statewide and a 2010 nationwide investigation of faculty development evaluation practices in the U.S. This article will describe how to develop a customized evaluation plan based on your program’s structure, purpose, and desired results, based on contemporary practices discovered through this research.
We tend to think of interviews as processes that select suitable candidates for different jobs. But in many ways the purpose of interviews is more accurately to reject unsuitable candidates. After all, by the time a search reaches the stage of meeting a few finalists on campus, the institution has largely been satisfied that everyone being interviewed is qualified for the job. The candidate’s résumé has been examined, references have been contacted, and the candidate has already answered a number of questions appropriately during a phone interview or an off-site at a conference. The critical question now is, Which of these finalists is the best fit for the program and the institution? Seen in this way, interviews are often less about demonstrating the qualities you possess in order to convince the committee that you deserve the position than they are about not demonstrating the qualities that might rule you out from further consideration. It is not uncommon for search committees to discover that a candidate who has all the right qualifications “on paper” acts so inappropriately that one begins to wonder, “Is this person actively trying not to be offered the job?” In fact, this experience occurs often enough that, as a public service, we would like to provide tips on how to talk your way out of a job during an interview. Follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll significantly increase the likelihood that the position will be offered to someone else.
With nontenure-track faculty now comprising 70 percent of the faculty workforce, academic leaders face daunting challenges in creating proactive workplace strategies that address this new reality. Even though more than a quarter of nontenure-track faculty are now in full-time nontenure-track appointments, the majority still teach part time. Despite the urgency of addressing this dramatic shift in the faculty workforce, as we point out in Creating a Tipping Point: Strategic Human Resources in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass, 2013), higher education has been comparatively slow to realize the potential of human resources (HR) in developing strategic talent practices. By contrast, in the private sector, a twenty-year research study (Ulrich et. al., 2008) with 40,000 respondents in 441 companies found that when HR professionals develop high-performance work systems, these practices affect 20 percent of business results. Such practices, however, need to be integrated and systematic to produce these outcomes.
Leadership changes in the upper administration can be stressful for chairs and deans. We’ve all seen situations in which a new chancellor or president arrives, and between six months and a year later, there’s an entirely new team of vice presidents. Sometimes entire divisions are reorganized. Offices are moved from the supervision of the provost and vice president of student affairs to create a new center for enrollment management, or an existing division of enrollment management is dissolved, and the people who worked in it are reassigned to the provost and vice president of student affairs. At times, too, new CEOs like to bring in their own team, usually people they worked well with at their previous institutions. (On why such a move is almost always a mistake, see Buller 2016.) A new vice president for academic affairs is often followed by the hiring of new deans, a new dean by new chairs, and so on.