Writing Faculty Performance Reviews: A Suggested Format
There is no one, correct format for writing faculty performance reviews. Ultimately, an administrator must find a format that fits her/his leadership and communication style and the culture of the department or school. Some administrators prefer a letter style; others prefer to send a memo. Either method can work.
The following provides a model that can serve as a checklist in writing review letters. The order in which teaching, research/scholarship, outreach, and/or service are discussed can be varied by the chair/director reflecting the mission of the unit and assignment of the faculty member.
The General Format
1. College/unit/University Procedure
Many administrators find it helpful to incorporate boilerplate language at the beginning of each review letter that describes the unit procedure for conducting faculty performance reviews. Referencing the relevant unit bylaws and University procedures should be considered.
An assessment of the teaching performance of the faculty member should be made. Such activities can include instructing, advising and mentoring students, and curriculum development. Wherever possible specific evidence of teaching merit should be cited, including SIRS ratings and comments, evidence of teaching awards, information from student exit interviews, publication of teaching materials (e.g. cases, software), innovative teaching methodologies, etc.
An assessment of the scholarly research and creative activities of the faculty member should be made. Such activities can include writing proposals, leading funded research, producing and editing scholarly works, etc. Wherever possible specific evidence of research merit should be cited, including: publications; funded proposals; presentations or performances made; exhibits made; editing outcomes; manuals, software and videos developed, etc. Where possible evidence of merit should be specifically described in terms of the impact that the research/scholarship has.
An assessment of the service of the faculty member should be made. Such activities include contributing to the department, college, university, discipline, professional associations and to the community. Evidence of service merit should include some assessment of the quality of service activities in which the faculty member has been engaged. Examples could include honors and awards, organizational leadership, written appraisals from various sources, etc. Where possible evidence of merit should be specifically described in terms of the impact that the service has.
An assessment of the outreach activities of the faculty member should be made. Such activities include knowledge extension and/or instructional extension activities. Evidence of outreach merit can include projects and proposals funded, revenues generated, the successful integration of teaching and research into outreach, leadership in outreach activities, etc. Where possible evidence of outreach merit should be specifically described in terms of its impact.
It is often helpful to summarize the discreet assessments of teaching, research, service and outreach. For junior faculty, consider including language about progress toward reappointment, tenure, and/or promotion.
7. Classification or Rating of Performance
Because all faculty salary increases are to be based upon merit, the chair/director should provide the performance descriptor in use within the unit that best describes the performance of the faculty member. The rating or classification given should be supported by and consistent with the evaluation of teaching, research, service, and/or outreach described and summarized in preceding sections.
8. Next Steps
Consider describing the next steps in the performance feedback and development process in place within the department or school. At a minimum, faculty members have the right to dispute the information contained in the letter. In some departments faculty are expected to acknowledge in writing their receipt of the review letter. Some departments have mentoring or personnel committees that work with faculty in certain stages of their careers or whenever a need arises.