Prepared by Jeffrey N. Cox, AVC for Faculty Affairs
November 6, 2007
Dossiers for comprehensive review, tenure, or promotion must include multiple measures of teaching (see the October 1998 memo on “Ten Ideas for Satisfying ‘Multiple Measures of Teaching’" issued by AVC Todd Gleeson). The gathering of these multiple measures is a joint responsibility of the candidate and the unit; the candidate should make sure that s/he has in place all the multiple measures s/he finds appropriate, and the unit should make sure that the measures it deems necessary for the evaluation of teaching on a regular basis are included. In order to clarify some issues around the gathering of such information, the Office of Faculty Affairs offers the following guidelines.
Peer Evaluation of Classroom Instruction:
The most commonly used form of evaluation, peer reviews of teaching are an important part of a candidate’s teaching dossier.
We consider it a best practice that candidates and units work together to insure that there is at least one peer evaluation per year the candidate under review has taught; larger units may be able to do reviews on a semester basis. A few letters solicited during the final semester of the probationary period are not sufficient to give a sense of the candidate’s teaching and development as a teacher.
Classroom Interviews and Student Interviews:
The Office of Faculty Affairs has found that classroom interviews or interviews of groups of students (as outlined in AVC Gleeson’s memo) are often the best way to gather information about a candidate’s performance as a teacher, as faculty interviewers can acquire focused information about a candidate from a statistically relevant number of current students. OFA recommends that units use this form of gathering student response wherever possible.
Student letters may become part of the file in a variety of ways: the unit may solicit letters, the candidate may solicit letters or include letters s/he has received from students, and students may send unsolicited letters to the unit. In most cases, the letters solicited by the unit carry the most weight. There are concerns on campus about the statistical validity of small sets of student letters, and units should keep this in mind as they gather materials for the teaching dossier.
The dossier should make clear which letters fall into each of the three categories mentioned above; it is best to have clearly marked sections for each kind of letter.
If the unit collects signed letters from students (this includes emails indicating the name of the student), these letters should be kept in a separate confidential file not available to the candidate. Graduate Students, post-docs, and former students should all be considered as students. A summary of these letters should be prepared by the primary unit evaluation committee and included in the dossier; this summary is available to the candidate. While an attempt will be made to keep these letters confidential during our review process, students solicited for comment should be made aware that their anonymity cannot be protected in the last instance. Unsigned letters or other forms of anonymous information gathered from students may be included in the dossier and may be seen by the candidate.
The backs of FCQ forms provide another source of anonymous student comments. If the faculty member decides to include these forms in the file, all the forms from a course, whether or not they include comments, should be submitted to the PUEC, who in turn certifies that all the forms were submitted for their analysis.
Candidates may ask that their teaching portfolio be included in the dossier. Such a portfolio can provide a cross-section of a candidate’s work as a teacher. As AVC Gleeson wisely stated in 1998, “Candidates are strongly encouraged to be highly selective and concise in what is included in the dossier. Only the most representative examples should be included. Candidates who overwhelm the dossier with portfolio material have the same effect on review committees that students who submit 40 page term papers have on instructors who made 15 page assignments.”
Please see additional section on Teaching Portfolios.
Some faculty publish on pedagogy in their field. Such publications can be an important part of a file, particularly if a candidate is being considered for “excellence” in teaching. Candidates should consider carefully whether such publications should be counted in their research/scholarship/creative work portion of their dossier or in the teaching portion. In most cases, such items can not be counted in two places, though they may be part of a description of work in two areas.
Assessment of Non-classroom Teaching and Other Contributions to Teaching:
A great deal of education takes place outside the classroom; the mentoring of graduate students and undergraduate individualized instruction are particularly noteworthy. Faculty also contribute to the education of our students by developing new courses, creating special learning experiences, and so on. Candidates should be sure to document such efforts clearly in their dossiers. Units wishing to argue for “excellence” in teaching should note such efforts in making such a case.
The campus's strategic plan, Flagship 2030, advances as one of its goals civic engagement by faculty, staff, and students. Teaching is one area in which the faculty can stress civic engagement, which includes service learning pedagogy. Faculty who employ service learning pedagogy or focus on civic engagement as an important part of one or more courses are encouraged to speak to these efforts in building their teaching dossier. Such efforts speak not only to a faculty member's commitment and dedication to a core campus goal but also indicate that a faculty member is drawing on research literature on innovative teaching methodologies.
External Reviews of Teaching Material:
Departments may wish to give candidates the option to have teaching materials (portfolios, FCQs, peer review letters, etc.) reviewed by recognized excellent teachers in the field. This option has not often been used, but it may provide important information, particularly when a candidate is being considered for “excellence” in teaching. Such reports from external reviewers would be held as confidential.
This is not an exhaustive list. Candidates and units should include whatever measures of teaching they found useful and convincing.