Blogs > Cliopatria > Let's Automate the Process of Post-Tenure Review

Mar 26, 2009 2:17 am


Let's Automate the Process of Post-Tenure Review



Earlier this week the faculty at the University of Maryland at College Park voted down a proposal that would have reduced salaries for professors that had received three consecutive years of negative post-tenure reviews. Hat tip.

The students generally supported this proposal, but it was faculty opposition that killed it. I would have sided with the students in this instance. I agree with President Obama that a teacher's salary should be based on their performance.

Some of you might object to this form of post-tenure review, since it seems like it would involve a lot of extra work. Actually, the people-hours required to process these review could be significantly reduced with the use of technology. I am think of a computer program that, with a little bit of help, could automatically do things like analyzing a professor's student evaluations, tracking the progress of their students beyond the professor's class, measuring their innovations in teaching, recording their usage of new technologies, counting visitors to their blogs, tallying their hours of service on committees, recording their hours spent in community outreach and service, tracing discussions of the professor or their work on the Internet, obtaining figures for their book sales, determining stats for online access of their publications, counting their publications and citations to their publications that appear in research databases, calculating research funds they acquired and used, and evaluating their research progress. For portions of the review that required qualitative responses, individuals involved could fill out brief surveys on a secure web site. With this and other information, the software could then determine whether a professor was meeting or exceeding performance goals and deserves an annual pay raise.


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Sterling Fluharty - 3/26/2009

You have reached many of the conclusions I hoped for. I agree that this system could be easily adapted and applied to those seeking tenure as well. You are right that the quantitative and qualitative would be interlinked for most or all variables, but I think that is a good thing. I mostly think change is good, but there of course exceptions. A teacher who incorporates technology into her or his teaching, without actually improving the learning process for students, is an example of change that is not for the best. Let's talk more about changes that may not be good, since I suspect that many of these concerns can be resolved. I too would love to see tracking of students who took a professor's class; the beauty of this proposal is that the federal stimulus money for this kind of educational tracking system has already been appropriated.


Jonathan Dresner - 3/26/2009

Why apply it just to post-tenure review? If the system works (and the transition to digital publishing actually does make it more likely that we'll be able to determine readership for a work as opposed to just distribution) it should be applied to the tenure process as well.

That said, many of the quantitative measures you mention have a qualitative aspect which will still require human evaluation, and there's an assumption that change is always good which we'd have to talk about.

The "tracking the progress of their students beyond the professor's class" rubric alone would drastically alter the landscape: I'd love to see it.

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