A faculty supervisor training program to assess faculty performance: a community college case study



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Many faculty in higher education simply do not value their supervisor’s assessment of their performance. The reasons are many-fold; among them is a lack of confidence in the supervisor’s ability to assess performance. While policymakers require institutions to conduct faculty performance evaluations and external stakeholders believe that the institution should be held accountable for student learning, there is often a disconnect between faculty performance and student benefit. Both faculty and faculty supervisors believe the primary outcome of faculty evaluations should be student benefit. Therefore, this qualitative case study was designed to create a model by which to base a faculty supervisor training program to assess and improve faculty performance. The study design addresses the (a) developmental process of creating a faculty supervisor training program, (b) organizational culture, and (c) participants perspective. This community college study was participant driven through the use of an Interactive Qualitative Analysis methodology with separate faculty and faculty supervisor focus groups. By describing their experiences with getting and giving evaluations, clustering their descriptors into affinity groups, and determining how they relate to one another, a model of each group’s experiences was created. Each group had eight affinities, four of which were in common. Both noted student benefit as the primary outcome of faculty evaluations. However, faculty said their main experience drivers were consistency/inconsistency and evaluator competence. Supervisors said their main experience driver was communication. This information formed the basis for developing a training program that shifted from a multi-college district perspective to an individual college. Training was offered on portfolio assessment, role playing/coaching skills, interpretation of assessment instrument rating scale and components, and legal aspects for documenting performance issues around faculty members with disabilities. The study 1) provides solid research on a topic for which there is little published information, 2) develops a model for faculty supervisor training programs, 3) builds grounded theory on the topic, and 4) offers a framework through which faculty and faculty supervisors can focus on student learning through assessing faculty performance and continually improving performance.