Evaluation

Purpose

The primary purpose of our system of evaluation is to help individual faculty members to grow and develop through methodical self-appraisal, applying agreed-upon criteria. The evaluation system also assists evaluators in decisions regarding salary, promotion, tenure, retention, and dismissal.

As members of an academic institution, we are accountable to past, present, and future students, our faculty colleagues, the Board of Trustees, and the community as a whole. Our task is to achieve academic excellence, and our performance as faculty members is to be measured against the standards of excellence for which we strive. The size and character of Ursinus College prescribe specific ways of achieving excellence. As a private liberal arts undergraduate institution, we place primary emphasis on excellence in teaching which includes performance as a classroom teacher, scholar, and adviser. We affirm that a commitment to excellence in these three areas is important in establishing an environment that fosters student learning and achievement. We also recognize the importance of each faculty member in the governance and administration of the academic institution; Ursinus College faculty are expected to be strong teachers and scholars and dedicated partners in fulfilling the mission of the college. Evaluation criteria pertain to teaching, scholarship and professional activities, and advising and service. Teaching is the most important work of the faculty, while the balance between scholarship, advising, and service will vary in individual cases over the course of a career.

The evaluation of a faculty member is a continuous process and the submitted evaluation should be the result of an on-going dialogue between the evaluator and the faculty member.

Procedure for Faculty Evaluation

Tenure-track and Tenured Faculty other than Department Chairs

All faculty are evaluated every year. For pre-tenure faculty, three of these annual reviews—the Initial Review, the Pre-tenure Review, and the Tenure Review—have a specific format, as discussed below.

Evaluations are prepared by the appropriate department chair, by the Dean where there is no department chair, or by a faculty review committee for faculty undergoing the Pre-Tenure and Tenure reviews, or for faculty under consideration for promotion to Professor.

Pre-tenure faculty are evaluated annually in three areas: (1) teaching, (2) scholarship and professional achievement, and (3) advising and service to the college. Tenured faculty are evaluated annually in teaching and evaluated every third year in all three areas, coinciding with the completion of their three-year professional plan.

When the evaluations and accompanying recommendations have been prepared, the evaluator will review them with the individual faculty member, offering an opportunity for discussion and modification if appropriate. The faculty member will receive a copy of the evaluation and any recommendation. In the event of a disagreement with the evaluator, the faculty member has an opportunity to supply additional documentation, including a rebuttal.

The evaluation and recommendation, and additional information as necessary, will be submitted to the Dean. The Dean will discuss evaluations with the department chair and, as appropriate, with individual faculty.

On a standard trajectory, there are two institutional reviews (that is, reviews involving the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, as distinct from evaluations completed at the department level) before the Tenure Review. The first, which commonly happens in the second year, is called the “Initial Review,” and the second, which commonly happens in the fourth year, is called the “Pre-Tenure Review.” Faculty who negotiate a shorter timetable because of prior employment may have only one pre-tenure review. In both reviews, the evaluation will be submitted to the Dean and the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, who will assess the candidate’s progress toward tenure. Faculty will receive written feedback from the Dean after the meeting of the Promotion and Tenure Committee. The procedures for the Initial, Pre-Tenure, and Tenure reviews are addressed in detail in the section on Promotion and Tenure.

The Dean of the College will make the recommendation to the College President with regard to salary, promotion, tenure, retention, and dismissal of an individual faculty member.

Department Chairs

Chairs will be formally evaluated by the Dean by April 15 of their second year of service. Department faculty and non-student department support staff will be given the opportunity to provide written input, which will go to the Dean of the College. The Chair may request summaries of this input.

Evaluation Materials

The evaluation of full-time faculty will be based on a professional dossier; on information derived from other members of the department, the faculty, and students; and on the professional judgment of the evaluators. All full-time faculty will create a professional dossier in their first year of service at Ursinus and make sure that it is kept up to date. The professional dossier should contain the following:

  • A complete curriculum vitae in a format designated by the Dean’s office;
  • A professional plan: Faculty in their first and second year of full-time teaching at Ursinus will submit one-year professional plans. In their third year, seventh year and every third year thereafter, faculty will submit a three-year professional plan. Individual plans should contain statements of goals and specific annual objectives in teaching, scholarship and professional achievement, and advising and service;
  • Self-evaluation: Non-tenured faculty will annually submit a self-evaluation which discusses how they have met the evaluation criteria, their strengths and weaknesses, where they need to concentrate their efforts, what progress they have made on their professional plan, and how they have addressed weaknesses identified in the previous evaluation. Tenured faculty will submit self-evaluations every third year, coinciding with the submission of their new three-year professional plan, which indicate progress toward the goals of the professional plan, and which address weaknesses identified in previous evaluations. Tenured faculty members who receive a rating of less than “Satisfactory: meets Ursinus College criteria” in any area of performance must submit annual self-evaluations until they demonstrate the necessary improvement;
  • Information derived from student evaluation forms and other evaluations of teaching;
  • Advising evaluations;
  • Publications, scholarly papers, or other evidence of scholarly activity such as manuscripts, patents, grant proposals, works of art, recordings of performances or installations, or reviews of professional performances when applicable and available.

Evaluation Criteria

Ursinus College faculty are expected to be strong teachers and scholars and dedicated partners in fulfilling the mission of the college. Full-time faculty are evaluated in each of the three areas of performance (teaching, scholarship and professional activity, and advising and service) and are rated as one of the following: a. Outstanding; b. Superior; c. Satisfactory, meets Ursinus College criteria; d. Needs improvement; e. Does not meet Ursinus College criteria. The five-scale rating used in faculty evaluations does not correspond to the five-scale rating used in the student evaluation form.

Teaching is the most important work of Ursinus College faculty. The balance between all aspects of faculty responsibility will vary in individual cases. However, every full-time member of the faculty must meet minimum requirements or be subject to non-renewal.

Guidelines for Faculty Evaluation

Teaching and Evaluation Criteria

Teaching

The goal of classroom teaching is to create an exciting environment for learning, where students are challenged and stimulated to perform up to their abilities.

An effective teacher:

  • offers courses that are substantive, rigorous, and challenging, taking into consideration the level and orientation of the particular course. The material presented must be accurate, up-to-date and regularly revised.
  • communicates well and uses appropriate teaching methods. She or he sets high standards for student performance and uses suitable means of evaluation.
  • motivates students to learn, displays genuine interest and enthusiasm, stimulates classroom discussion, respects students and treats them fairly, and is available for help outside of the classroom.

Faculty members are expected to post and hold a sufficient number of scheduled office hours each week and to be available at other times for scheduled appointments with students. Faculty are also expected to mentor the intellectual engagement of students outside the classroom.

Recognition will be given to faculty members who develop new courses and the expertise to teach them, participate in interdisciplinary courses, or engage in other innovative teaching activities.

Evaluation of Teaching

Teaching ranks as the first and most important category in which a faculty member is evaluated. Excellence in teaching is of paramount importance. In the evaluation of non-tenured faculty, it is the responsibility of the chair and the tenured faculty of the department to encourage recently appointed faculty in the pursuit of excellence in teaching and to initiate evaluation of candidates based on these criteria.

The evaluation of a teacher is a very complex task, and the evaluator must use all relevant information to reach a fair evaluation of a faculty member’s teaching. Although there is general agreement on the value of teaching, the college acknowledges that a diversity of approaches can meet the standard. The College therefore recognizes that differences in teaching practice across disciplines and course format inform the evaluation process.

In generating evaluations, evaluators will use, at a minimum, student questionnaires (Student Perception of Teaching Questionnaires [SPTQ]), the faculty member’s self-evaluation, and course syllabi. Some or all of the following are also useful tools for teaching evaluation: colleague evaluation, classroom visitation, review of teaching materials, additional systematic consultation with students, and professional judgment. In the event that the teaching performance is judged as “Needs improvement” or “Does not meet Ursinus College criteria,” it is the evaluator’s responsibility to initiate a dialogue with the individual faculty member to seek ways to improve the situation.

Professional Activity and Evaluation Criteria

Scholarship and Professional Activity

Faculty members are expected to engage in projects that involve scholarship as appropriate for their discipline. These scholarly projects should be brought to conclusion from time to time and result in visible products that can be evaluated by competent critics from inside or outside the college. Faculty are expected to disseminate their work through publication, performance, exhibition, or other forms appropriate to the discipline.

Faculty are also expected to contribute to intellectual exchanges within their discipline and those that occur among faculty within the college. They are expected to attend off-campus scholarly and professional conferences and seminars on a regular basis and to present their own scholarly work in the appropriate fora.

Faculty are encouraged to represent the college by participating in professional activities related to their disciplines. These include holding offices in professional organizations, organizing conferences, and lecturing and consulting in their professional fields.

Faculty are additionally encouraged to seek fellowships or grants, to develop new knowledge and skills supportive of their research and teaching activities, and to engage in directed or collaborative scholarship with students.

Evaluation of Scholarship and Professional Activity

Scholarly work can take a number of forms, and the college will seek to evaluate quality in ways appropriate to the faculty member’s discipline. Evidence of this quality can include available reviews of the candidate’s published work, performed work, exhibited work, or grant proposals. In addition, such information will be supplemented in all tenure and promotion reviews by external evaluations of the candidate’s scholarly work in terms of the quality of achievement, significance within the discipline, awareness of issues and trends in the field, and evidence of the candidate’s future promise.

It is the faculty member’s responsibility to keep his or her evaluator(s) informed about professional activities and to maintain an updated dossier on file.

It is the evaluator’s responsibility to guide and support faculty members in the area of professional activities.

In cases of evaluation for tenure or promotion, scholarly work will be disseminated for external review.

Advising/Service and Evaluation Criteria

Advising and Service

All full-time faculty have a responsibility to be actively involved in the affairs of the institution. This responsibility includes advising students, participating in the governance and life of the college, and representing the college in both the academic community and the community at large.

Advising

Faculty are expected to take a genuine interest in students regarding their academic, career, and long-term goals. All full-time faculty members are expected to serve as competent advisers to students who are either majors, minors, or first-year students. Effective advising goes beyond consideration of students’ academic programs and schedules to include guidance concerning academic challenges and post-graduate plans. All advisors should be aware of the college’s support services and refer students as needed. Faculty are expected to be available to students during regularly scheduled office hours and at other times as needed.

It is the department chair’s responsibility to assure that full-time faculty members serve as advisors to an equitable number of students, be they majors, minors, or first-year students. Faculty in their first semester of service are not expected to have formal advising duties.

Advising is the most important category of service, and faculty must achieve a rating of Satisfactory or higher in this area in order to have an overall rating of Satisfactory or higher in Advising and Service.

Service

Faculty are expected to contribute to the governance of the College by attending faculty meetings and academic convocations. As members of an academic department they are called upon to participate in a collegial manner in the day-to-day activities of the department, to attend departmental meetings, and to support the academic and professional activities related to the department.

It is the department chair’s responsibility to make new full-time faculty aware of the importance of service to the campus community and to provide opportunities for them to participate in activities relating to service to the college. Beginning in their second year of service all full-time faculty should endeavor to serve on college committees, whether elected or appointed.

As members of the college community, faculty are encouraged to participate in interdepartmental college activities (e.g., recruitment, college events, and honor societies) and to join in campus activities that help build a sense of community.

Evaluation of Advising and Service

The evaluation of advising and service is a complex task, and the evaluator must use all relevant information to reach a fair evaluation. This will include but is not limited to advising questionnaires and other advising feedback, committee service and contributions, participation in the life of the college, and professional service.