Many higher education institutions use annual faculty reviews to monitor progress, measure outcomes, and increase engagement. As faculty members meet with department chairs and other institution professionals, they gain feedback that propels their professional growth and aids institutional advancement.
These processes help uncover meaningful data and provide faculty with actionable insights to develop professionally. They also present an excellent opportunity for your staff to showcase accomplishments and highlight personal achievements. These reviews can help decision-makers determine promotions, such as tenure, and drive institutional change. Learn more about the importance of these reviews and how to set goals for them.
What Are Faculty Reviews?
Faculty reviews are rigorous and objective evaluations to assess a faculty member's performance. Faculty reviews comprise self-assessments and other evaluations to ensure your faculty is working effectively and continually contributing to improving themselves and your institution. An effective faculty review process can improve faculty productivity, close wage gaps, increase diversity, and positively change a higher education institution.
An annual faculty evaluation typically consists of preparing and reviewing a self-assessment, faculty panel scrutiny of documentation, and a panel visit to the faculty member. After completing the initial review process, the panel will create a report detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the faculty member and recommendations for improvement. The committee may also follow the report by devising an action plan for the faculty member to improve effectiveness and efficiency.
Why Are Faculty Reviews Important?
Faculty reviews allow your team to identify where they're excelling and where they need to improve. When your faculty continuously improves, your team and students can feel the effects on the learning environment. Faculty improvement can also contribute to your institution's reputation.
Faculty reviews rely on qualitative and quantitative data to support decision-making, and both varieties offer different benefits:
- Quantitative: Quantitative data, such as years of service and prestigious awards, can assist in decisions regarding tenure positions, department configuration, and curriculum shaping.
- Qualitative: Qualitative information, such as instruction quality and student perspectives, enable institution administrators to draw connections between data and experiences. These connections can create a more enriching classroom experience for faculty and students as instructors define teaching practices and craft engaging course materials.
These reviews enable your faculty to articulate their institution's objectives and goals and measure the impact of these missions on your institution and students. You can further develop your team's ability to assess themselves, each other, and your students through faculty evaluations.
Evaluations also contribute to a positive culture of change and allow team members to take immediate action toward improvement. When you detail action plans for your faculty, they know the actionable steps they can take to progress rather than staying at a plateau.
How Faculty Review Data Is Used
Faculty review data provides tons of meaningful information. Although many institutions understand the importance of these reviews, not every college and university knows how to use the data effectively. Along with helping your campus obtain far-reaching goals, you can use faculty review data to:
- Determine promotions: Use the information you gather to determine which faculty members excel. This data can help you decide who should achieve tenure status, receive pay increases, or get a promotion.
- Monitor student engagement: Faculty evaluation data helps you better understand the student experience. Students can voice their thoughts and concerns about classroom culture and curriculum by completing course evaluations and instructor surveys.
- Complete accreditation reports: Accreditation peer reviews can be lengthy. Gathering faculty data for reviews can capture some of the information you need to complete the accreditation process.
- Examine teaching methods: Student course evaluations give instructors and administrators an idea of how effective teaching methods are. Students may detail what they like and dislike, including instruction methods. This information is especially beneficial if your instructors are trying to implement new methods.
- Reduce inefficient practices: Using software to make repeatable evaluation templates streamlines the review process. You can reduce the time and effort your team needs to create, distribute, and share forms with your team.
- Create an engaging curriculum: Faculty reviews consist of student data and self-assessments that detail where the curriculum is engaging and where it's lacking. Use this information to craft a curriculum that aligns with the goals and interests of your students.
Overview of the Faculty Review Process
The faculty review process will generally begin with a professional consultation during a faculty member's second year of service. The first faculty review can occur during the third service year. Around this time, faculty members will arrange a visit with the department chair, who may sit in on two classes.
After this visit, instructors can decide to meet to discuss their performance and areas of improvement. Once the committee completes the reports, they will ask the faculty member to meet and summarize the decision. This process can be lengthy, and we've detailed a breakdown of how it typically goes from start to finish.
Request Faculty Self-Assessments
One of the most essential components of faculty reviews is self-assessments. This comprehensive document outlines the achievements of faculty members and their progress over the academic year. You can also find faculty goals for the upcoming year in a self-assessment.
Faculty members need enough time to complete the self-assessment, and the chair needs adequate time to review it. These processes should remain separate and may require additional resources. The self-assessment should help keep the faculty member on track for tenure while meeting their personal goals. This should not appear as busy work or interfere with other goals.
Review Faculty Self-Evaluations
Once your faculty member completes their self-assessment, the department chair reviews it. This review involves evaluating the faculty member's achievements, goals, and objectives. The department chair should recognize strengths and weaknesses and reinforce both aspects in the meeting with the faculty member. As important as it is to improve, it's also essential to reinforce where a team member is excelling.
The chair will acknowledge areas that need growth or attention and consider opportunities for the faculty member to contribute to other institutional goals. As the chair works through the self-assessment, they should also allocate resources to help the faculty member reach the goals they've outlined. They will also recognize whether they need to discuss other topics, such as new initiatives or goals.
Examine Faculty Profiles
Some institutions operate with faculty portfolios, which are great documents to include in a faculty review. These documents showcase service statements, research, and teaching practices that have led your faculty member to success. You can easily access this information anytime if your institution utilizes faculty profiles to show achievements.
Although the chair may not be able to review each faculty member's profile, encourage them to discuss the importance of updating profiles with your team. These comprehensive profiles can make it much easier for your team to gather the materials they need for the review process and give your faculty a convenient location to build their accomplishments and prepare for their reviews.
These profiles can also aid student decisions about whether they would like to attend your institution or a particular course. Similar to your chair, students can access these profiles at any time and evaluate the credentials of your instructors.
Analyze Faculty and Course Evaluations
Course evaluations and other faculty assessments are incredibly valuable during faculty reviews, especially if the faculty member is an instructor. These assessments detail what students enjoyed about a course and what areas need improvement. Other team members may also have feedback for the faculty. If your institution has a mentoring program, department chairs can speak with the student mentee or professional mentor about the faculty member's performance.
Course evaluations are also an excellent opportunity to examine where there may be a disconnect between course materials and student success. Students who detailed they did not enjoy a course but received exceptional grades may indicate a disconnect between teaching methods and course curriculum. Perhaps instructors need to evaluate whether or not lectures need to be more exciting or assignments are too easy.
Preparing for Faculty Reviews
The faculty review process begins with preparation from the faculty member and the department chair. Department chairs select data points and craft the self-assessment form to kickstart the process. They review information, like portfolios and evaluations. Chairs will also need to arrange the meeting agenda. Department chairs then determine whether discussions will focus on campus-wide initiatives, professional growth and success, or departmental goals.
Sample Faculty Review Questions
Teaching is a challenging topic to master, and evaluating your professors can help your students receive the highest-quality instruction and materials. Finding the right questions is essential to gathering the meaningful information you need to evaluate teaching practices.
A faculty annual review sample for an instructor may feature questions like:
- Is the professor highly enthusiastic about course materials?
- Can you use a range of tools to complete assignments and learn?
- Did you find feedback to be helpful and informative?
- Does the instructor provide students with a clear discipline overview?
- Is class information relevant to the instructor's field of study?
- Can the educator answer questions regarding their industry adequately?
- Does the professor encourage students to think critically?
- Do you feel all students and assignments received fair grades?
- Does the instructor reach out to students who need additional assistance?
- Did the professor monitor progress in creative ways?
- Does the educator embody the institution's code of conduct?
- Did you feel a high level of excellence was attainable in this course?
- Was the professor well-prepared for each class session?
This list is by no means exhaustive but details a range of questions. Students can discuss an instructor's professionalism, course expectations, curriculum creativity, and topic enthusiasm. Student responses can give insight into their experience and where the faculty member excels or needs to improve.
How to Give Constructive Feedback During Faculty Reviews
Communicating effective feedback can be a challenge. Constructive criticism is one of the most critical aspects of the faculty review process — this is where your team will understand how they can improve to benefit themselves and your institution. Feedback is valuable, and giving actionable steps toward improvement guides faculty members toward making meaningful change.
Explain to your faculty why you want them to make a change. They can keep these objectives in their mind and distinguish between something they've done wrong and something they can do better.
When you portray feedback in the right way, it can become a catalyst for change rather than a harsh remark. This can shape the conversation to flow from what is currently wrong to what will be correct in the future.
When giving constructive criticism, you should:
- Focus on efforts that impact future work
- Deliver feedback that improves teaching styles or research and service outcomes
- Understand tension may arise, but use it to fuel conversation
- Offer specific and measurable actions to take
- Encourage faculty to offer their own ideas
- Discuss specific examples to explain your reasoning for requesting a change
How to Set Goals for Faculty Annual Reviews
Setting realistic goals and objectives can lead your faculty to improve campus culture and student experiences. Goals are typically more long-term tasks that take a few years to complete. Goals may include securing department funding or increasing teaching efficiency.
Objectives are short-term tasks that your faculty can focus on for the following year. These tasks are measurable and could include items like submitting two applications for funding, enrolling in a training program, or completing a project by a deadline.
It would be helpful for your faculty member if you place goals and objectives in priority order. Discuss tasks you would like your team members to dedicate the most time and effort to first. Clearly state your intentions for setting the goal or objective and detail why you think it would benefit your faculty to take a particular action.
Make these tasks actionable and time-bound for the best results. “Complete training by the start of next semester” could be an approachable objective.
How to Respond to and Handle Difficult Reactions During Faculty Reviews
Although feedback is important for progress, not every faculty or staff member will view it that way. Some people cannot take criticism well, and others may feel hurt. Knowing how to respond to various reactions helps keep a professional tone during faculty reviews.
Reactions you may face include:
- Silent: Silence is a typical response to criticism. Remain patient and ask for their opinion when appropriate. Listen and restate what you heard to encourage them to remain engaged.
- Defensive: When faculty members are resistant, try to appear understanding. Inquiring about their feelings and reiterating what they say can show you care. Focus on the problem rather than the person.
- Emotional: Emotional responses can be challenging to handle. Refrain from responding quickly to avoid adding to the emotional intensity. Give your faculty members time to compose themselves and recognize their feelings without agreeing.
- Overwhelmed: Some faculty members will think you're suggesting far too many tasks for them to complete in time. In this case, focus your energy on discussing how these goals benefit the institution and professional growth. Don't agree with their statements but, rather, rephrase them to be accurate.
Reach Faculty Evaluation Goals With Watermark
Watermark is constantly looking for ways to improve student experiences and drive meaningful change at higher education institutions. Our Faculty Success software makes it easy to keep faculty data current and easily accessible.
Watermark's Faculty Success allows you to track faculty achievements and manage all incoming data easily. This information can aid in annual faculty reviews, strategic planning, and accreditation reports. No matter what you need, you can quickly access information with our program from anywhere. With customizable reports, faculty profiles, and self-serving reporting options, you can quickly turn your faculty data into actionable insights that improve your institution.
Request a demo of Watermark Faculty Success today. Start reaching your faculty evaluation goals with Watermark.
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