ERIC Identifier: ED385315
Publication Date: 1995-06-00
Author: Rifkin, Tronie
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Community Colleges Los Angeles CA.
The Status and Scope of Faculty Evaluation. ERIC Digest.
Ever since the 1970s when faculty evaluation in the community college first
became an issue of discussion and research, there has yet to develop a clear
faculty evaluation theory. In spite of the many programs and the extensive
research on performance appraisal, few community colleges have effectively come
to terms with this difficult task. In fact, in the last 10 years research
focused on faculty evaluation practices at two-year colleges has been limited.
This digest examines the issues surrounding faculty evaluation in community
colleges. It focuses on the controversy over the purpose of faculty evaluation,
who is doing the evaluation, and the problems faculty evaluation programs face.
CAN FACULTY EVALUATION BE BOTH FORMATIVE AND SUMMATIVE?
of the main obstacles to effective faculty evaluation has been the inability of
community college practitioners to reach consensus as to the stated and intended
purposes of faculty evaluation programs. Viewed broadly, evaluation of faculty
is the gathering of information for understanding and improving performance as
well as judging its quality. Smith (1983) notes that The Southern Regional
Education Board, in a regional survey of faculty evaluation practices in 1976,
reduced faculty evaluation down to two purposes. On one hand, faculty evaluation
has a formative purpose--the results are used to support faculty development,
growth, and self-improvement. On the other hand, faculty evaluation has a
summative purpose--the results are used to make personnel decisions on tenure,
promotion, reappointment, and salary. Since the 1970s, there has been a debate
over whether an evaluation system can be both formative and summative, and still
Early on, one side of the debate demanded that evaluation for faculty growth
be kept separate from evaluations for promotion and retention (Cohen 1974;
Buchanan, 1974). While many of the faculty evaluation models that have been
developed often emphasize this separation, early writers on the subject (Mark,
1977; Miller, 1972) already had observed that no evaluation programs adequately
outlined how these two purposes could be separated.
The inability to devise faculty evaluation programs that separate formative
and summative purposes has fueled the argument that supports the incorporation
of both purposes into the evaluation process. Results of research on post-tenure
faculty evaluation in community colleges in the north central United States
conducted by Licata and Andrews (1990, 1991, 1992) has provided support to this
side of the debate. The majority of community college faculty and administrators
surveyed identified faculty development as the primary purpose, with the
provision information on promotion, retention, dismissal, and normal salary
increments as a secondary purpose. Licata and Andrews assert "that institutions
find a way to join both formative and summative results into the faculty
evaluation plan" (1992, p. 55).
Obviously, the argument for the incorporation of both purposes is still not
at all clear. Some studies have found that perceptions of what is considered to
be the ideal methods and purposes of faculty evaluation may differ from
perceptions of how evaluations are actually applied in practice. For example,
Young and Gwalamubisi (1986) reported results similar to Licata and Andrews in
that both faculty and administrators perceived improving instruction as the
ideal practice and specific purpose of faculty evaluation. However, faculty and
administrators differed significantly on the extent to which they perceived
faculty evaluation was used for administrative decision-making, instructional
quality, and reporting to external agencies. Even though formative evaluation is
considered a primary purpose of faculty evaluation among faculty and
administrators, research suggests perceptions of how the results are used
interferes with the overall success of evaluation systems that attempt to
incorporate both purposes.
WHO IS DOING THE EVALUATING?
One of the few points of
agreement concerning faculty evaluation among community college practitioners is
the need for multiple sources of input on individual faculty members. But a
matter of debate concerns which sources provide the best results and in what
combinations. A comprehensive list of eight methods of faculty evaluation were
identified by Young and Gwalamubisi (1986): student ratings of instructors, peer
judgment, self-evaluation, administrator observation of faculty, solely
administrator judgment, evidence of student achievement, alumni evaluations, and
instructor performance tests.
Student evaluation of teaching is the most common form of evaluation; Seldin
(1984) found that administrators utilized student-rating data in two-thirds of
616 institutions surveyed. However, it is also the method that raises the most
concerns. Cashin (1983) notes some of the general problems with student
evaluations of faculty: over-interpretation, only one aspect of teaching
reflected in the data, students not equipped to judge some aspects of teaching,
and concerns for reliability and validity.
Evaluation by peers and administrators has received less attention than
evaluation by students. Peer evaluation focuses on knowledge of subject matter,
commitment to teaching, or the qualities of good teaching. Colleagues can also
judge the course design and instructional materials of a particular instructor.
Centra (1979) estimated that 27 percent of the two-year colleges use colleague
evaluations to formally assess at least one-half of their faculty while 34
percent make no use of colleague evaluations.
Administrators ultimately play the major role in evaluation, but from a
faculty perspective there is a concern with that role and the possible misuse of
power (Cherry, Grant, & Kalinos, 1988). Evaluation by administrators is here
to stay and as a consequence the contention between faculty and administrators
over all aspects of the evaluation process is not likely to disappear. However,
there is room for creative alternatives that will lessen the conflict. For
example, the teaching portfolio offers an excellent alternative means of
evaluating faculty that requires collaboration from peers and department chairs
(Centra, 1993). With the portfolio, the chair and instructor must identify the
goals of the evaluation, and carefully delineate the expectations for acceptable
performance. Once these materials are prepared, a clear time table and the
expected outcomes must be established.
WHAT PROBLEMS DO FACULTY EVALUATION PROGRAMS FACE?
(1983) found two major problems in establishing successful faculty evaluation
programs: (1) the administration is not interested in whether or not they
succeed, and (2) the faculty are resistant. According to Arreola faculty
resistance to being evaluated is attributable to "a resentment of the implied
assumption that faculty may be incompetent in their subject area, suspicion that
they will be evaluated by unqualified people, and an anxiety that they will be
held accountable for performance in an area in which they may have little or no
training" (p. 86).
Often, faculty suspicion, fear, and concern about the evaluation process is
based on their perceptions that in fact it is used for the purposes of making
decisions about tenure, promotion, and dismissal (Mark, 1982). Says Mark, "What
is called development, growth, and self-improvement today becomes the means by
which decisions for institutional personnel management purposes are made
tomorrow. Faculties become wary and suspicious of this double message involved
in the evaluation system" (p. 168).
It is evident from the literature on faculty
evaluation at community colleges that there are a number of different methods
and approaches to faculty evaluation at community colleges. Despite the lack of
clarity as to the goals of evaluation and their application, and who should be
involved in the evaluation process, community college practitioners agree that
evaluation is a necessary part of teaching and learning. They also agree in
principle that evaluation should help instructors grow professionally, but are
unclear as to how to achieve that goal.
One conclusion to be drawn is that an ideal system of faculty evaluation
cannot be normative. A non-normative, or criterion referenced system, would
appraise faculty members according to a set of professional standards rather
than by comparing them to other employees. The thrust of the evaluation would
encourage professional development rather than discourage it. In any case, there
is a need for research to further address the development of responsible and
effective faculty evaluation systems that consider enhancing the growth of the
faculty member as an individual.
Arreola, Raoul A. "Establishing Successful
Faculty Evaluation and Development Programs." NEW DIRECTIONS FOR COMMUNITY
COLLEGES, 1983, 11(1), 83-93.
Buchanan, R., et al. "Preliminary Report of the Faculty Professional Growth
Committee." St. Louis: St. Louis Junior College District, 1974. (ED 116 738)
Cashin, William E. "Concerns about Using Student Ratings in Community
Colleges. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES, 1983, 11(1), 57-65.
Centra, John A. DETERMINING FACULTY EFFECTIVENESS. San Francisco:
Centra, John A. "Use of Teaching Portfolio and Student Evaluations for
Summative Evaluation." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American
Educational Research Association, Atlanta, GA, April 12-16, 1993. (ED 358 133)
Cherry, Robert L, Grant, Peter H., Kalinos, Katherine D. Evaluating Full-Time
Faculty Members." In Richard I. Miller (Ed.). EVALUATING MAJOR COMPONENTS OF
TWO-YEAR COLLEGES, pp. 23-34, 1988. (ED 301 300)
Cohen, Arthur M. "Evaluation of Faculty." COMMUNITY COLLEGE REVIEW, 1974, 2,
Licata, Christine M., Andrews, Hans A. "Faculty Leaders' Responses to
Post-Tenure Evaluation Practices. COMMUNITY/JUNIOR COLLEGE QUARTERLY, 1992, 16,
Licata, Christine M., Andrews, Hans A. "Administrative Perceptions of
Existing Evaluation Systems." JOURNAL OF PERSONNEL EVALUATION IN EDUCATION,
1991, 5(1), 69-76.
Licata, Christine M., Andrews, Hans A. "The Status of Tenured Faculty
Evaluation in the Community College. COMMUNITY COLLEGE REVIEW, 1990, 18(3),
Mark, Sandra F. "Faculty Evaluation in Community College." COMMUNITY JUNIOR
COLLEGE RESEARCH QUARTERLY, 1982, 6(2), 167-78.
Mark, Sandra F. "Faculty Evaluation Systems: A Research Study of Selected
Community Colleges in New York State." Albany: State University of New York,
Faculty Council of Community Colleges. (ED 158 809)
Miller, Richard I. EVALUATING FACULTY PERFORMANCE. San Francisco:
Seldin, P. "Faculty Evaluation: Surveying Policy and Practices." CHANGE,
1984, 16(3), 28-33.
Smith, Al. "A Conceptual Framework for Staff Evaluation." NEW DIRECTIONS FOR
COMMUNITY COLLEGES 1983, 11(1), 3-18.
Young, Raymond J., Gwalamubisi, Yoswa. "Perceptions about Current and Ideal
Methods and Purposes of Faculty Evaluation. COMMUNITY COLLEGE REVIEW, 1986, 13