Faculty Review: Best Practices

  • Comprehensiveness: Begin with a brief description of the review process. This may be somewhat "boilerplate," but should be modified as needed for each individual review. Address all aspects of the faculty member's performance from a range of viewpoints:
  • Teaching: Include both student and peer evaluations, as well as a review or critique of course materials. Include information provided by senior faculty who actually have visited each of the faculty member's classes or observed the faculty member in clinical teaching. Discuss the "mix" of courses taught. Address graduate student research supervision if applicable.
  • Scholarship or Creative Work: Review/critique not only numbers of publications or creative works, but also quality of journals, presses (for books), or creative outlet; order and number of authors and, optionally, quality of work as reviewed first-hand by departmental colleagues; grant-seeking activity (effort and scope, range and appropriateness of funding sources sought) and success at grant attainment. This may be discipline-specific and should include information that explains as well as describes (e.g., is 3 articles in a year a lot or a few in the field?)
  • Service: Heavy departmental service burdens should be ameliorated and, in extreme cases in which the service burden was actually an impediment to the faculty member’s progress in teaching or research, may be compensated for by a tenure-clock extension. Any request for a tenure-clock extension must be initiated by the faculty member, not the DEO or Dean. The faculty member makes a request of the DEO, who makes a recommendation to the Dean. The Dean, in turn, makes a recommendation to the Provost, who makes the decision to grant or deny the request.
  • Problem-Solving Orientation: Suggest concrete and workable solutions for problems noted; cite the departmental, collegiate, or University resources that are available or will be provided to the faculty member to help address problems. For example, a faculty member with poor teaching evaluations could be encouraged to utilize the Center for Teaching or a faculty member who experienced significant delay in setting up his/her lab (especially if the department / college / University contributed in any way to the delay) might be provided with an RA for a semester to make up for the lost time.
  • Positive Recognition: Congratulate faculty on notable achievements in teaching, research, and service, including the achievement of recognizing a problem and working to improve the deficiency.
  • Convey Expectations: The faculty member should receive from the annual review a clear sense of the extent to which s/he is making progress towards meeting departmental and collegiate expectations for a positive reappointment, tenure, and/or promotion decision. Expectations can be communicated directly (e.g., "Professor G needs to be more active in writing up completed research for publication.") but also indirectly through expanded description. For example, "Professor W’s published papers and those s/he plans to write do not duplicate each other, which is an important consideration in developing a body of research that will make a significant contribution to the field." OR "Professor B has assumed responsibility for a desirable mixture of courses during the two years at the University of Iowa, both required classes and electives drawing on his/her areas of expertise."
  • Balance: The review should be a balanced appraisal, including description, critical evaluation, advice, and praise.