How should faculty performance be evaluated?

IIMA, IITB and University of Hyderabad share their experiences on the best methods for evaluating faculty performance

Measuring faculty performance is a sensitive issue with both quantitative and qualitative aspects. In commercial enterprises, employee performance can directly impact the output—production volume and sales. However, faculty cannot be given direct credit for the success of an institution measured in student numbers. Albeit great faculty attracts students of a higher calibre, given the fixed number of seats, this quantitative measure doesn’t really help measure the incremental value teachers add to students and to an institution.

Faculty must be evaluated on quantitative aspects—such as their teaching hours, the number of students they mentor, the number of papers they write, etc. They must also be evaluated on qualitative aspects like the standard of course content, teaching methodology, etc. In addition, institutions ought to take cognizance of non teaching aspects such as faculty attendance, punctuality, behaviour with management, etc.

As importantly, faculty evaluation must be objective. Only then can institutions take unbiased decisions about faculty promotions, remuneration, tenures, awards, etc. and give them constructive feedback about their teaching methods. Here is how some best institutions are going about measuring faculty performance for various reasons (and rewarding high-performing faculty):

 

LINK FACULTY REMUNERATION WITH THEIR WORK PERFORMANCE

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) sought to improve faculty compensation and to link faculty remuneration with their work performance. To this end, it has introduced a performance management system which tracks faculty performance in teaching as well as non-teaching activities—such as number of classes taken, number and type of research papers published, cases and books published and contribution to administration. Faculty earns points for their performance in each of these metrics. IIMA has introduced a qualitative element to the metrics, Professor G Raghuram, Dean (Faculty), IIM Ahmedabad explains how: “Getting a research paper published in a more reputed journal fetches faculty a higher score. Writing a research based book gets a higher score than a popular book.” The same goes for level of effort. Authored books get a higher score than edited books. Writing a new book gets a higher score than revising a book.

Faculty scores are associated with incentives paid over and above regular salaries. Incentives can vary from nil to almost the regular compensation.

Interestingly, IIMA was tracking these aspects of faculty performance even before the new system was introduced. “Faculty used to submit narrative accounts of activities performed. In contrast, the new system is completely objective,” shares Professor Raghuram.

The new system has gone down better with younger and newer faculty.  According to Professor Raghuram, “Clearly setting out what is expected from faculty sets the stage for higher performances.” 

 

ASK STUDENTS WHAT THEY THINK

Richard M Felder and Rebecca Brent, co-directors of the National Effective Teaching Institute, sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education, say student ratings should be considered an essential component of faculty teaching performance evaluation. Why? Students are in a better position than anyone else to judge teaching aspects like how clear, interesting, respectful, and fair a course instructor is, and they’re the only ones who can say how an instructor has influenced their attitude toward the course subject, their motivation to learn it, and their self-confidence.

Rashmi Uday Kumar, Public Relations Officer of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay agrees that students feedback on courseware, teaching and teachers is very important—“After all, students are the most important stakeholders in an academic institution. Their feedback can help faculty to improvise on their teaching methods and make their lectures more interesting and enriching.”

At Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, faculty awards for excellence in teaching are majorly decided on the basis of students’ ratings of each course and faculty performance. To be nominated for the awards, a faculty member must have elicited responses from at least 100 students of whom at least 30% must have rated his or her teaching as “Excellent” or “Very Good. Faculty must also have taught for at least three of the five preceding years. Students rate faculty on a scale of 1 to 10, on their teaching quality, on their clarity of subject concepts, on their study material presentation, on the usefulness of their tutorials, on the quality of their interactions, on their ability to clear doubts, on their teaching methods, on their teaching speed, on their course content, on the usefulness of their course, etc. Weight is paid to the responding students’ position in class, attendance and understanding of the subject. A decision on the winner is taken by comparing the weighted average of each faculty’s overall course evaluation.

IIT Bombay has also instituted faculty awards for the best research and review papers with the aim of recognising outstanding research work done at IIT Bombay. According to Dr Prasanna M Mujumdar, Dean, R&D, IIT Bombay, “Criteria for these awards include the significance of the research contribution, the study quality and its impact, the quality of the journal where the work has appeared, peer reviews, and the number of citations of papers in journals, monographs and other refereed publications. A committee appointed by the Director assesses the nominations and selects the winning papers.”

Asking students what they think about faculty is a common practice overseas. At Carnegie Mellon, students are encouraged to participate in the evaluation of faculty through a formal Faculty Course Evaluation process. Students can opine on faculty engagement levels, learning outcomes, faculty behaviour and course activities. FCE data is used to evaluate the quality of teaching and learning, and course design and content. Such feedback is provided to both individual faculty members and promotion committees.

 

BLEND TRADITION WITH INNOVATION

The UGC framework details the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS), how to evaluate faculty’s academic performance for their career progression. As per its directives, faculty at the University of Hyderabad are asked to score themselves on a list of criteria including the number of courses taught, contributions to seminars, quality of teaching, publishing achievements, etc. The university’s Internal Quality Assessment Cell (IQAC) certifies these scores and forwards the same to the Human Resource Development section in the office of the Registrar. These scores are placed before a selection committee with external experts to make appropriate recommendations regarding the promotion of a faculty member to a higher level.

Additionally, the University of Hyderabad has introduced two innovations to further faculty development and reward high performing faculty. Professor E Haribabu, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Hyderabad, explains more: “We have created the Faculty Professional Development Fund, from which each faculty member receives Rs.10000 for research related purposes. We have also instituted University Chancellor’s awards to recognise contributions of faculty aged below 45 years. The Rs.100000 award is spread over two years, and made to five faculty members. We invite external reviewers who are subject experts to rank faculty nominations for these awards on the basis of the following criteria: 1) research publications based on the research done at the University; 2) research grants received during the last five years; 3) teaching contributions and courses taught, new courses designed, and mentoring students, and 4) contributions to the Centre/Department/School.”

 

Best Practice: Involve Peers

According to Richard M Felder and Rebecca Brent, co-directors of the National Effective Teaching Institute, sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education, faculty peers are in the best position to judge whether a course is accurate and up-to-date, whether the assignments and tests are appropriately challenging, and the content and learning objectives consistent with the course’s intended role in the department.

Formal peer reviews to evaluate classroom teaching aren’t common in India. It mostly happens informally, such as at IIMA. Professor G Raghuram, Dean (Faculty), IIM Ahmedabad believes the exchange that happens when colleagues teaching the same subject sit in on each others’ classes and share feedback adds value to teaching.

To make classroom teaching observation more unbiased and representative of faculty performance, Felder and Brent suggest getting two or more reviewers to observe several sessions, giving them standardised checklists to rate the instruction and instructional materials and asking them to reconcile their ratings. 


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