The University Rank & Tenure Committee (URTC) has become increasingly concerned with the following practices used by applicants and evaluators in the tenure and rank advancement process concerning student assessment data:Copies of the memo were sent to the president of the faculty union, the chancellor, the provost, the deans, and the chairs of departmental rank and tenure committees.
- Overemphasis/overconfidence placed on numerical summaries at the expense of other evaluation criteria of equal worth. According to Section 9.310-A of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), "Documentation of effective classroom teaching includes but is not limited to peer and student evaluations."
- Use of isolated and therefore potentially unrepresentative numerical scores and student comments. According to 9.100-A of the CBA, "advancement in rank and attainment of tenure by faculty are...based on overall performance."
- Overemphasis on numerical summaries of student evaluations may divert applicants and evaluators from consideration of other varied, legitimate forms of evidence that also reflect effective teaching. Effectiveness assessment of faculty depends on both quantitative and qualitative measures. Furthermore, over-reliance on quantitative measures may lead to statistically deceptive and invalid conclusions. Statistical averages of subjective opinions tend to be accepted as having validity because we tend to have confidence in quantifications even though the primary data are subjective impressions. Subjectivity is thus transformed into a spurious objectivity.
For these reasons, the URTC respectfully requests that those involved in collaborative negotiations consider including in the next CBA language which will explicitly stress the importance of weighing a range of evidence demonstrating excellence in teaching in the tenure and rank advancement evaluation process, including but not limited to student evaluation scores.