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How Universities Evaluate Faculty Performance: A Survey of Department Heads

Centra, John A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS GRE Board Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Faculty Evaluation, Research Performance, Evaluating Teaching, Student Ratings, Tenure, Scholarship


Department heads from 134 institutions (mainly universities) indicated the weight they generally give to various criteria for evaluating individual faculty members. The questionnaire they responded to included: (a) the criteria used for evaluating overall faculty performance; (b) the sources of information for evaluating teaching; and (c) the kinds of information used for judging scholarship or research performance. Although teaching, research, and service are generally acknowledged as the major functions of most universities, responses by the 453 department heads indicated that public or university service is usually given little importance in evaluating faculty members for decisions regarding tenure, salary, and promotion. The Research Universities emphasize research and scholarship, as might be expected. The so-called Doctoral-Granting Universities and the Comprehensive Universities and Colleges said that teaching was ranked first in importance, followed closely by research. The results of the study also suggest an increase in the use of some of the more systematic and tangible kinds of evidence for evaluating teaching performance (e.g., student ratings), though the use of such evidence falls far short of what department heads think is needed. In general, the evaluation of research and scholarship depends very much on the level of the institution and the type of department. For example, peer judgments of research and the number of articles in quality journals are much more important in social science departments in the Research Universities than in the same departments in the Comprehensive Universities and Colleges.

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