Questioner : Anonymous
Question posed to Pamela Chally, Interim Provost and VP of Academic Affairs and Kally Malcom – Bjorklund, UFF President
This question is for the UFF union president and the UNF administration interim Provost. Can each of you weigh in on the appropriateness — contractually and scientifically — of a Promotion and Tenure Committee or an administrator to focus narrowly on ISQ results (student evaluations) and impose a threshold score for a particular item when making judgements of teaching?
Question answered by Pamela Chally, Interim Provost and VP of Academic Affairs
Kally and I thought we would answer that together. I really appreciate that, because it comes directly form the contract.
The Collective Bargaining agreement addresses criteria for demonstrating teaching effectiveness, and the process of applying for tenure and promotion. Article 20 addresses tenure:
“Judgments of academic excellence are complex. They cannot easily be reduced to a quantitative formula, nor can the considerations that must be applied in each individual case be completely described in general terms or by numbers alone, separate from necessary qualitative assessments.”
Article 20.5 is the section titled Criteria for Tenure and Basis for Tenure Decision.
This section includes the paragraph I just mentioned, and section D states that the tenure decision shall take into account annual assignments and annual performance evaluations, among other things.
Performance Evaluations are addressed in Article 18, and on teaching effectiveness. This article offers the most specific language about how faculty can demonstrate teaching effectiveness. And it is in Article 18 where ISQs are addressed specifically.
Article 18.2(d) University Required Student Evaluations.
“(1) The University required student Instructional Satisfaction Questionnaire (or ISQ) is one tool for evaluating teaching performance, and all the required ISQs must be included in the annual evaluation portfolio. However, the evaluation of a faculty member shall not be based solely or primarily on student evaluations if the faculty member has provided other information or evidence in support of his/her teaching performance.”
“There are many approaches to and dimensions of pedagogical work. Thus, the evaluation of teaching performance shall consider the range of pedagogical activities engaged in by the faculty member.”
Another section in Article 18 offers 15 examples of pedagogical activities that can be used to evaluate teaching effectiveness, and ISQs are but one of the measures listed.
The Collective Bargaining agreement has language in Articles 18 and 20, as well as several promotion articles that outline the appropriate way to evaluate teaching effectiveness. The person asking the question also seeks scientific data supporting or challenging the use of student evaluations as the singular method of assessing teaching effectiveness. In the interest of brevity, I will not use this time to point to the several studies that are out there related to the usefulness of student evaluations. The best practices for evaluating faculty teaching are already addressed clearly within the collective bargaining agreement. And that is an agreement that is negotiated not just by UFF but also by the administration, and I was so happy that Provost Chally told us this morning that they are committed to following the contract, which we all must do, so we are happy to stand together in support of Articles 18, 20, and so many more.
Dr. Chally: It’s a multifaceted decision, and it’s really important that the individual make their case as to why they should be supported