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COVID-19 Revised Annual Evaluation Guidelines

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance about the faculty evaluation process for the period covering Spring 2020 and Academic Year (AY) 2020-21 in response to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on faculty work. We recognize the current crisis 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 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 reflect this aim: 

Spring 2020

Teaching Evaluation

Despite the admirable and creative work of faculty members transitioning their courses to remote instruction in Spring 2020, these circumstances may have adversely affected their student evaluations of instruction (eSEI) scores. As Provost, I previously waived College and/or unit level requirements to include Spring 2020 SEIs in annual productivity reports. WVU faculty members are still permitted to remove SEI results from their file for the Spring 2020 semester only. The process and deadline for requesting eSEI removal from your Digital Measures file can be found on the WVU Faculty website. Chairs/unit leaders will still have access to the units’ Spring 2020 eSEIs and may use them for developmental purposes or to identify trends in the student experience during this unprecedented time.

Regardless of the situation, eSEIs should never be used as the sole basis for evaluating teaching. If faculty members choose to remove their Spring 2020 eSEIs, they will 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

Summer/Fall 2020; Spring 2021

Redistribution of Effort

During AY 2020-21*, faculty may request to adjust their distribution of effort to reflect the increased amount of time devoted to teaching and mentoring of students as a result of this changed learning environment. The redistribution of effort may also reflect changes in service loads as a result of altered circumstances (e.g., suspension of faculty searches or modifications of internal and external service obligations). Finally, with the COVID-19 temporary closure of labs, libraries, archives, county extension offices, performance venues, and other facilitates related to scholarly work, faculty may have faced disruptions to their research/scholarship/creative activity activities. 

Normally, increasing the percentage of effort allocated to teaching is based on giving a faculty member an additional course assignment. But in this case, it could also be done in recognition of the extra effort required to design and deliver a high-quality online or hybrid-flex course. Faculty who increase the portion of their effort allocated to teaching may be expected to take advantage of professional development opportunities related to online and hybrid-flex teaching available at on the WVU TLC website

Faculty who wish to request a redistribution of effort may do so by requesting from their Chair/unit leader a temporary one-year modification of their annual work assignment so that teaching or research or service is increased by 10%, and either research or service is reduced by 10%. Faculty members utilizing this strategy will be expected to document the success/impact of these efforts. In addition, faculty will still be expected to demonstrate significant contributions in their designated area(s), and their work will be externally reviewed for tenure and/or promotion. When faculty files come to my office for tenure and/or promotion review, my staff will continue to ensure that such changes in assignment are taken into account when examining the totality of the faculty member's contributions.

If a Chair/unit leader and the faculty member significantly modify the annual workload (more than a 10 percent change in effort distribution), they must create a MOU that formally changes the distribution of effort and the expectations for promotion and/or tenure associated with that change. This change must be approved by the faculty member, Chair/unit leader, Dean, and Provost. This agreement would be placed in the faculty member’s Digital Measures file for record keeping purposes. 

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. A faculty member may request a redistribution of effort up to but no later than August 30, 2020. 

Research/Scholarship/Creative Activity

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 in 2020 and AY 2020-21. 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 for 2020 and AY 2020-21. 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. 

Service

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. 



* Not all academic units use the same time frame for their workload documents. Some use the academic year and some use the calendar year. Thus, the percent effort changed can be both retroactive and pro-active to account for an inordinate amount of effort put into an area in the spring and for many current faculty now reformatting teaching modalities over the summer for the Fall 2020 semester.