UNIT 1 - PRINCIPLES of APPRAISAL
This page outlines the principles upon which
a clear, consistent and constructive appraisal policy is based.
Before you start, remember to create a new folder "Faculty Appraisal" and have a Word document named "Unit 1" open as you read.
An appraisal system, like the Performance Enhancement Programme (PEP) at the HCT where I work, is one that is standard and coherent and adheres to best practice and principles. If you would like to read more on the literature available, please click here.
It is a process which:
· is fair to all
· is based on sound principles
· allows problems to be detected early and therefore acted upon quickly
· assures both consistency in approach and documentation when applied correctly
Many of the doubts about the reasons behind the PEP, or any institutional approach to faculty appraisal, can be allayed by the supervisors introducing it in the first introductory meeting (Unit 3) in a positive and enthusiastic way. To do this they must receive the full support of the college and the institutional system.
Teachers were more positive about the value of the programme when
they perceived that it was linked to their own personal and professional development.
In order for any appraisal programme to meet international best practice standards, its component processes need to be clear, accurate, consistent, fair and constructive. As any appraisal programme also has an important personnel evaluation strand, it is concerned in a fundamental way with people's personal and professional well being. Accordingly, the processes need to be guided by ethical and other process shaping principles and ideas.
It is extremely important that all parties concerned with the appraisal programme internalise and apply the key guiding principles which underpin the programme. It is widely recognised that those who hold positions of authority or special power have a particularly important responsibility in this respect.
Given the spirit and intent of the programme, parties should adopt a disposition which at all times is in the interests of enhancing employee performance and morale. Such a disposition or orientation should generate constructive and fair actions, including communication.
Sometimes, individuals find sessions and especially observations (Unit 5) which concern performance evaluation to be stressful. It is important for the supervisory person to recognise this and do all that is possible to put the other employee at ease.
A good way to start is to make clear the general disposition or approach referred to above. The expectation of two-way communication should also be made explicit, and the positive aspects of performance should wherever possible be given primacy of place.
The provision of constructive feedback (Unit 6) to enable continual enhancement of professional performance is a key element of any effective programme. Providing people with helpful feedback concerning their performance can sometimes be difficult, particularly when it is necessary to point out areas which need improvement. At the same time, staff with a supervisory role have a responsibility to provide such feedback, in a manner consistent with the disposition referred to above.
Conclusions and judgements must be based on the relevant and properly derived information available, particularly that presented in the Teaching Portfolio Extract (Unit 9). At all times, conclusions and judgements should seek to satisfy the essential need for validity and fairness in outcomes and processes.
It is a desirable practice (to be established over time - see the paragraph below) that goals and priorities for employees are established (Unit 3) as part of the overall appraisal programme process. This should normally be done at the beginning of each academic year and would usually involve a process of discussion and negotiation between the Teacher and his/her Supervisor. Teacher's professional goals should be consistent with the institution's specified 'core' and 'position specific' duties and competencies (e.g. "Teaching Specific" duties).
Assuming effective goals have been set, when appraisal programme discussions are facilitated, the Teacher/Employee should have a good idea as to whether she/he has been effective, and ways in which his/her effectiveness could be improved. By obtaining the employee's viewpoint, the supervisor is in a better position to deal with what might be unresolved job-related matters. By strengthening two-way communication in a constructive environment, the quality of information and understanding of performance matters should be enhanced.
The final appraisal discussion (Unit 10) is a natural time to focus on the future. The session should provide valuable information concerning the employee's strengths and areas where improvement is possible or needed. It also provides the opportunity to discuss their goals and interests for the coming year. Together, supervisor and employee can plan specific activities and assignments that will enable professional development and performance enhancement. Focusing on the future is a good way to indicate that both the supervisor and the institution have a real interest in and commitment to supporting employees. This in turn is known to have positive effects on motivation, morale and performance.
Final appraisal discussions (Unit 10) should normally be confined to matters concerning professional performance. Every effort should be made to minimise the effects of factors such as personal like or dislike for an individual, or aspects of their particular style or approach.
Clearly, where there is explicit evidence that aspects of the personal style of an employee are causing significant problems in terms of expected work performance, then a proper process should be established to resolve the matter at the earliest opportunity.
Communication within, and records of the final appraisal discussion, should be confidential, within the institutional guidelines concerning records. The employee must be fully aware of what exactly is recorded in their personnel file.
The principle of "diversity", which is built into any effective appraisal model (particularly in respect of teacher performance evaluation) should be respected at all times. In general terms, this implies considering an individual employee's performance in terms of the individual's duties, responsibilities and context during the period under review. For example, in different years, individual teachers in any institution do different amounts of classroom teaching, course or project co-ordination, curriculum development, and other work set by management. All of these responsibilities are important, and their value is reflected in these appraisal guidelines.
Ongoing feedback to support and enhance performance is a key element of the appraisal programme. Effective two-way feedback during the periods between final appraisal discussions should not only enhance performance and morale, it should contribute to more fruitful subsequent discussions.
The rest of this paper outlines the stages of the appraisal process and the units that follow:
Objectives (Unit 3)
Teachers draw up their objectives based on the previous year's final appraisal meeting (Unit 10) and include objectives on the following:
1. Classroom teaching
2. Personal PD
3. Action Learning - collaborative group PD
4. Departmental duty
5. College duty
6. Duties beyond the college - (if applicable)
6. Other - from last year's final discussion record
First Meeting (Unit 3)
The Teacher and Supervisor discuss the following and ensure that classroom, department, college and system objectives are covered.:
1. Objectives (Unit 3)
The meeting should also include decisions on which weeks to do the observation and student evaluations:
2. When and who to observe
3. What format observation to take (Unit 5)
4. Student evaluations (Unit 7)
The teacher then sends a final soft copy to the Supervisor, and these can be updated during the year as objectives change.
Observation (Units 4-6)
There should be at least one observation every year.
Every observation must have a pre-observation discussion and a feedback hour (as well as a write up if the teacher wishes) or it is NOT an observation.
The pre-observation meeting (Unit 4) sets the focus for the observer and allows the observer to brief the teacher on how s/he conducts observations.
Preferably the observer should know the class and even teach it beforehand.
I like to offer teachers the choice of:
1. Straight 45 minute observation
2. Short 20 minute observation with each section
3. Blitz observation of every class in a given week
4. Unseen observation
5. Peer observation (with the Supervisor present at the pre-obs and feedback).
During the observation (Unit 5) the Supervisor should take notes with questions throughout the lesson.
At the end of the observation the teacher receives the notes and uses the questions to reflect upon the lesson.
At the feedback session (Unit 6), which should be at least a couple of hours later, the teacher leads the discussion using their answers to the questions posed in the notes.
An observation write up is not required by the process but does give the teacher support in compiling their extract.
Teacher and supervisor can decide if they want one at all or who should write it up - Supervisor, teacher, peer or students.
Student evaluations (Unit 7)
Every teacher should have a minimum of 4 sections evaluating them during the academic year.
If this is not possible - e.g. the teacher is teaching only one section all year, then 2 evaluations at different times should be done
If a teacher is teaching more than 4 sections over the year they can decide to have them all do evaluations.
Student evaluations should be conducted at a time that is appropriate to teachers, students and institution.
Supervisors can insist on student evaluations from any given section if they wish.
Teachers should also be encouraged to collect their own informal student feedback to support their classroom objectives.
When the results are available the Supervisor and teacher should discuss them and how they can be referred to in the extract.
The Supervisor must know the class and the circumstances of the student evaluation - e.g. was it done just after a testing week?
Summative write-up (Unit 8)
This is not required by many appraisal programmes, but it does give teachers some meat to include in their TPE (Teacher Portfolio Extract - Unit 9).
I do a short one page review of how I feel the teacher has fulfilled their objectives.
The TPE - teaching portfolio
extract (Unit 9)
This is the teacher's 4-6 page summary of their portfolio.
It must be noted that the portfolio is private and can take any form.
It is not a public document.
It is simply where the teacher stores the material they refer to in the extract and which they can access quickly if required to do so.
The extract must include a self evaluation with reflection on teaching, reference to student evaluations and reference to line supervisor's comments.
It must adhere to the honesty principle in that anything stated in the TPE can be supported by documentation in the portfolio.
The final appraisal discussion
meeting and record (Unit 10)
This meeting is held between the Supervisor and the teacher and the record is completed during the meeting with both present.
The power of this meeting is that it not only looks back and reviews the last year but also draws on that review to look forward and set goals for the coming year (see point 1 above).
A truly cyclical process.
This is the outline of the approach we will plan, implement and discuss over the coming 40 hours.
Now email your tutor with your journal - the word document you have named "Unit 1".
Now, draw up a spreadsheet or Word table showing the stages of this appraisal approach along the top row and the names of the teachers you will be working with on this course down the first column.
The table should look something like this:
etc .. etc..
etc.. etc ..
The cells are used to add the dates you
complete each of the stages (as in the first cell above).
Discuss the approach with the teachers you have decided to work with and get their input.
Take notes on their reaction and concerns for the following discussion.
Enter the discussion forum here and add your first turn in response to the tutor's opening question:
"What are the two major teacher concerns that mirror your own worries most closely? How do you intend to overcome these concerns?"
If you have problems entering the discussion board, please email your first turn and the tutor will ensure it is posted and that you gain access.