The following provides guidance about the faculty evaluation process in response to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on faculty work. We recognize the ongoing pandemic may have caused disruptions to faculty in their teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity and service goals. While we remain committed to recognizing and rewarding high standards of excellence in all three mission areas, we also acknowledge that the COVID-19 crisis may have significant impact on faculty research productivity.
Many faculty members are facing additional challenges as a result of extra caregiving duties, personal health concerns and other disruptions caused by “stay at home” orders. Based on these challenges, we previously granted an automatic extension to the tenure clock for all tenure track faculty members. Faculty members can still opt out of this extension and the information about this process can be found on the WVU Faculty website. Even with this extension it is critically important that faculty evaluation committees and unit leaders approach faculty evaluation during this period with creativity, flexibility and understanding. The following changes in policy and practice for 2020-2022 reflect this aim.
In terms of teaching, this is a good time to remind faculty evaluation committees and academic leaders that eSEIs should never be used as the sole basis for evaluating teaching. Faculty members need to demonstrate their excellence in teaching in a variety of other ways as indicated below:
- Faculty should be given opportunities to document and discuss in a narrative how and what they learned while teaching during the move to online teaching; any training undertaken related to eCampus, Collaborate, Turnitin, Voice Thread, Zoom, and other on-line instruction; resources they used to shift to online instruction; additional mentoring of and support for students facing uncertain and rapidly changing circumstances.
- Faculty might also provide a “before” and “after” syllabus to demonstrate how they adjusted their courses as they moved online. Similarly, they may demonstrate efforts to build or expand their eCampus page.
- Faculty are encouraged to share materials, messages, etc. in which they communicated course changes, resources and other general measures of support to their students.
In addition, as outlined in the University promotion and tenure guidelines, supporting documentation to demonstrate effective teaching may include evidence drawn from the assessment of student learning outcomes; student advising evaluations; and peer and Chair evaluations of instructional performance. It may also include analyses of course content; evaluation of teaching “products,” such as textbooks or multi-media materials; the development or use of instructional technology and computer assisted instruction; pedagogical scholarship in refereed publications; studies of success rates of students taught; or other evidence deemed appropriate and proper by the academic unit. It could also include evidence of participation in workshops and other learning opportunities; inclusive teaching practices; and application of service-learning principles. For more resources on these other methods please visit the WVU Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) website and resources outside the University, such as the Teaching Engagement Program at the University of Oregon or Oregon State University.
For teaching faculty, who already have an 80% teaching assignment, the increased expectations of the COVID-19 crisis may have a disproportionate impact on their workload. Chairs/unit leaders are urged to take that into account when making assignments and should consider various ways to support teaching faculty who may be tasked with developing, teaching, and overseeing instruction of multiple sections of online or hybrid-flex courses.
Increasing the impact of research, scholarship, and creative activity and maintaining our R1 status continues to be an important strategic priority of the university. Faculty members should be supported and encouraged to continue their engagement with their research programs, scholarship, and creative activity during this period. At the same time, we expect that productivity may be disrupted or adversely affected, and we understand that some faculty may have health concerns that require special accommodations, or caregiving responsibilities and other circumstances that further limit their progress. Therefore, it may be necessary to apply a different standard when assessing faculty research, scholarship, and creative activity through academic years 2020-2022. Recognizing the cascading effects of disruptions to faculty efforts, departments/academic units are asked to exercise flexibility in evaluating faculty research in the coming year or two, depending on the extent and type of disruption experienced and documented by each faculty member.
- Faculty members should be strongly encouraged to provide a narrative explaining any impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their research/scholarship/creative activity. This narrative might include discussion of delays in journal reviews and publication of submitted articles, lab closings, conference cancellations, etc. Faculty members whose sabbatical leaves were disrupted should describe which tasks were not realized and why.
- Departments may consider recalibrating their research/scholarship/creative expectations and criteria through academic years 2020-2022. For example, if a department typically expects pre-tenured faculty members to publish two papers per year, the faculty evaluation committee could adjust that expectation to one paper per year. Committees may assign greater value than they normally would to conference papers accepted but not delivered because of conference cancellations. Virtual presentations given as part of academic conferences should be evaluated as equivalent to in-person presentations.
Faculty evaluation committees should use caution when comparing and contrasting faculty members’ relative productivity. Health concerns, child care responsibilities, and financial challenges, which are personal matters and thus not typically included in annual file narratives, may affect productivity levels. Therefore, in evaluating research during the COVID-19 crisis, committees and unit leaders are urged to give greater weight to the quality and impact of published research versus the quantity of research produced.
Pandemic-related changes to internal and external service commitments will vary. Faculty members may find that their service activities shift significantly, with some areas of service increasing while others decrease. If a significant portion of their workload varies, faculty members are strongly encouraged to provide a detailed narrative of the ways in which their service obligations have been altered as a result of the pandemic. In evaluating service, special weight should be given to contributions that advance unit-wide teaching and learning during this period, and to service efforts utilizing the faculty member’s expertise that support community responses to the COVID-19 crisis. In evaluating service during this period, committees and unit leaders are urged to give greater weight to the quality and impact of the service work instead of the amount of service provided.