Chapter 2- Annual Evaluation for Faculty Members

(Updated on June 4, 2012)

The objective of the annual evaluation process is to assess the faculty members’ contributions and achievements in research and scholarly work, teaching, and service both to the University and society at large. An equally important objective of the process is to provide guidance for faculty members’ long-term professional development plans. 

2.1. Procedure

Dean/Director sends a letter about two weeks before the first day of the academic year to faculty members asking them to fill out the electronic Annual Activities Form. The Annual Activities Form covers the October 1 -September 30 period of the preceding academic year, however faculty members are strongly encouraged to update the form during the year as relevant information becomes available. This form contains also a section where the each faculty member presents a self-evaluation for his/her performance in the preceding academic year, and his/her projects for the current academic year. Dean/Director’s letter requesting the faculty members to fill out contains information explaining the basis for evaluations. An example of a letter and the template for the evaluation form are presented respectively in Appendices A2 and A3.

The procedure is carried out along the following steps.  

·   Faculty member fills out the form and submits it electronically by the second week of October.Dean/Director communicates the faculty member his/her evaluation by the second week of November. This evaluation is a vehicle for recognition of achievements, and, equally important, a tool for professional development by indicating areas and ways of improvement faculty member should focus on.

·   Dean/Director’s evaluation is accompanied by a letter giving a deadline until the third week of November to respond if the faculty member has a difference of opinion. The faculty member whose opinion differs from the one expressed by the Dean/Director can also ask for a meeting and presents his/her differences in writing. The Dean/Director may request a one-on-one meeting, at his/her discretion, in order to discuss the performance, ways of improving the performance, recognition and rewards. Similarly, the faculty member, may petition for a similar meeting with the Dean/Director.

·   Dean/Director presents his/her final evaluation to the Office of Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) in the last week of November.

·   VPAA submits his/her recommendation based on the Dean/Director’s evaluation to the President by the third week of December.

·   President makes the final decision, if deemed necessary, in consultation with the Dean/Director, by the second week of January, and the Dean/Director notifies the faculty member with a letter.

·   The Dean/Director can call upon the faculty member at his/her discretion at any time to discuss the performance of a faculty member.

The time line can be summarized as follows:

Second week of October: Faculty member submits the annual report;
Second week of November: Dean/Director presents his/her evaluation to the faculty member;
Third week of November: Faculty member presents his/her views to Dean/Director;
Last week of November: Dean/Director presents his/her finalized evaluation to VPAA;
Third week of December: VPAA submits his/her recommendation to President;
Second week of January: President finalizes the evaluation decisions.

The evaluation is based on faculty member’s teaching effectiveness, research and scholarly activity, and university and professional service, and results in one of the following qualitative descriptors: “Outstanding,” “Superior,” “Satisfactory,” “Deficient.” The qualitative descriptor “Satisfactory” should be interpreted as average performance in a given academic year.  Faculty members are expected to rigorously improve Koç University’s standards, and sustaining a “Satisfactory” performance over the years may not automatically lead to a favorable evaluation in the contract renewal process.

Normally, faculty members on the first year of their appointment are not evaluated, and receive a “Satisfactory” assessment. Faculty members with contracts less than three years are only evaluated at the end of their contract term for renewal. Their annual salary adjustments are based on the “Satisfactory” standing while their performance is indicated by the descriptor “No Evaluation.”

In line with Koç University’s mission, faculty members' overall performance evaluation is based on an average of his/her teaching effectiveness, research and scholarly activity, and university and professional service.  The relative weight of each evaluation category reflects the expectations of the university from faculty members who are in different stages of their academic careers. The faculty member’s area, academic seniority, his/her teaching and research progress over the years, and service responsibilities provide a basis for the evaluation decisions. For example, in the evaluation of junior faculty members with minimal service responsibilities, “Outstanding” is reserved for those who have excelled in both research and teaching during that year by receiving an “Outstanding” in one category and “Superior” or “Outstanding” in the other category. Similarly to receive “Superior” the necessary condition is to have “superior and above” marks in one category and “satisfactory and above” marks in the other category. This is summarized for all categories in the performance matrix given in Appendix.

2.2. Policies and Guidance for Performance Evaluation of Research Track Faculty

Koç University has a defined mission of excellence in teaching, research, and service to the society. Standards of performance expected from faculty members have to be consistent with the mission of the university, and they would be expected to get higher as the University progresses towards accomplishing its mission.

The following presents the framework for annual evaluations that is basically valid for all forms of evaluations and promotions. There is no quantitative formula suggested. These guidelines can provide a basis for quantifying to check against a qualitative judgment. The agreement on the terms of reference will eliminate miscommunications and unproductive judgmental discussions.

·   Meaning of the annual evaluation report. The evaluation assesses the academic achievements of an individual within the report period.

The annual evaluation report refrains from assessing the overall scholarly value of an individual. Consequently, even the greatest scholar can have a deficient year, and vice versa. The rationale for this limitation is to encourage continued productivity. The scholarly value of a faculty member comes in a longer time frame. This value is assessed at the time of the initial contract offer, subsequent contract renewals and promotions. At the same time, the expectations of productivity from a junior and senior faculty member may be different.  

·   Scope of the evaluation report. The evaluation report accounts for finalized work, i.e., measures output within the report period.

Finalized work in research consists of published and accepted work in written and presentation format. In teaching, finalized work consists of courses taught, advising provided, teaching material produced, such as lecture notes and textbooks, and student evaluations received. These definitions exclude submitted work, preparations and work in progress. 
The rationale for evaluating only the output consists of the following arguments.  

·   The impact of a scholarly activity comes from finalized work;

·   Ongoing work is an unreliable indicator of achievement due to the uncertainties in leading to successfully finalized work;

·   The evaluation of ongoing work may prove to be a misleading feedback to the faculty;

·   Evaluating ongoing work leads to multiple counting of accomplishment through the years;

·   Ongoing work gets evaluated in the long term as it gets finalized;

·   Evaluation of input (i.e., effort, intention, etc.) is dangerous as it gives administrators an uncontrolled authority for subjective judgment.

A natural consequence of evaluating the output is the inability to report on the ongoing efforts and good intentions. Possible frustration should and can be avoided by noting that academic work goes through an investment period before leading to productivity. The investments that are sound will eventually lead to finalized work in the long term. The opposite is also true in the sense of receiving high evaluations due to work that got finalized from efforts that went unrewarded in the past.

2.2.1. Evaluation of Research Work

Different considerations guide the weights associated with finalized work of different nature.

·  Impact

This is the criterion that determines the relative importance. Hence, in general, (i) printed material has a higher value due to its larger and more lasting impact than conference presentations; (ii) In a majority of disciplines, journal articles are given a higher value over other types of printed material. Not all journals carry the same importance. Leading journals typically are more competitive to get into and have wider readership and influence on the literature. Consistent with Koç University’s mission of becoming a center of excellence, leading journals carry greater importance.

·  Achievements of primary value

(i) Journal articles and citations. The inclusion of a journal into the AHCI, SCI, SSCI and its impact factor are considered as primary criteria of importance for achievement. This category overall carries the highest weight due to its larger impact. Citation is a significant indicator of quality and appreciation of the research work by peers.  However the level of citations varies from field to field. These differences are recognized in the evaluations. A compilation of publication rates and citations received in various fields serves as a guide. Appendix A4 presents a compilation representative of publication rates and citations received in different fields. Collaborative work is encouraged; however, the faculty member’s own independent research contributions should be evident and documentable.

(ii) Significant achievements of rare occurrence. The publication of a book of a scholarly nature, a handbook, recognition such as winning a prize or an award, selection to an important board or committee, receiving unusual citations for work spanning a long term lead to a large impact. Editing a book has a lesser weight than authoring one. A promotion such as from assistant to associate professor is also seen in this category. These achievements are the result of long time efforts and happen only a few times in a scholar’s career. Consequently, a large weight is given to such achievements. The recognition of accomplishments of this nature is important for faculty to engage in important long-term projects.

·   Achievements of secondary value

This category has its exceptions. For instance book chapters both invited and refereed as well as invitations for plenary and keynote addresses may have primary value, particularly in some areas.  Some of these papers become seminal works used as seminar materials for graduate courses and reference papers for basic research. The review of the originality, editor and publisher reputation, and other contributors’ stature and affiliations will serve as guidance. The classification below, with the exceptions mentioned above, covers the impact of the majority of such contributions.

(i) Refereed Book Chapters and Conference Proceedings. Their value and impact shows a great variability. Stature of the editor and the publisher usually certifies the quality of the contribution. The university policy favors journal articles of high impact over this category while not necessarily discouraging this kind of medium. An additional consideration for this ordering is that a select subset of the work of this nature will make it to journals with an eventually greater impact. Conference abstracts are not included in this category of work.

(ii) Plenary and Keynote Addresses. These are important achievements. However their impact is not as lasting as printed material. If they lead to printed articles, they carry a higher value than usual conference proceeding articles. Usually, these kinds of achievements follow extensive publications of high impact in a field.

(iii) Presentations. This category has a wide spectrum in value, based on the nature and competitiveness of the conference, its impact as measured sometimes by being refereed or not, invited and contributed, the ease of entering, the nature of the presentation. The rationale of attributing a secondary value in general is that the good work will eventually make it to journals and hence will get the due credit.

(iv) Research Funding. Faculty members are expected to have a record of research funding. Research funding is necessary to attract and mentor graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, to develop and maintain research infrastructure and to sustain scholarly activities. Research funding also reflects the recognition of the individual’s research by external peers. Amount of funding may vary from field to field.

(v)  Patents. Scientific research may lead to intellectual property in the form of patents. Patents embodying innovative scientific research receive recognition in the annual evaluations. However they should not be necessarily viewed as direct substitutes for achievements of primary value such as publishing in leading journals.

2.2.2. Evaluation of Teaching Performance

Good teaching is a necessary requirement. However, even great teaching is not a substitute for the absence or deficiency of research in annual evaluations, contract renewals and promotions.

The syllabi, student evaluations, attendance level to classes taught, student oral communications and the review of the teaching dossiers constitute the basis of the teaching evaluation. Student academic advising is also included in this category. Assessment in this area is one of the hardest and the value of the student evaluations has its margins of reliability. A multitude of reasons such as class size, area versus elective and core courses, the nature of the topics introduce a wide range in the student evaluations in well taught or less well taught courses. However sensitivity to the students’ comments, asking colleagues’ advice or even asking for their observance in their classes and sincere self assessment are ways for improvement in teaching.

Participation in student activities, serving as adviser to student clubs, etc. are important in facilitating personal development of the students and achieving the broadly defined educational mission of the University. Similarly, leadership in curricula or program development, sharing of teaching experiences, etc. is considered very important contributions to the university.

2.2.3. Service

Concerns about the appraisal of service provided by a faculty in research track are legitimate as this category receives the smallest weight. Service contributions count, however they cannot be a substitute for great teaching and research production for faculty in research track.

The university administration makes a special effort for not to distract junior faculty from their primary functions of providing superior education and delivering excellent scholarly work. However, all faculty members are expected to contribute a form of service, appropriate to rank and seniority, by being responsive to the needs of the students, the colleges, the university, and the society.