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Evaluation of Faculty with Extension Appointments

Guidelines for Obtaining Evaluative Information on Teaching Ability and Effectiveness

The guidelines presented herein for evaluating the teaching ability and effectiveness may not be totally appropriate for all types of teaching activities conducted by faculty having extension appointments.  Teaching activities conducted in the one-on-one, troubleshooting, demonstration or industry leader mode should be evaluated by appropriate methods selected by the Unit Leader in consultation with the faculty of the unit.  Wherever possible, however, the tenets presented herein should be followed.

The faculty of each academic unit shall develop and implement a procedure and instrument(s) for this purpose.  A copy of the approved procedure and instrument(s) shall be kept on file in the Office of the Dean.  Also, a copy shall be given to each faculty member within the academic unit.  The procedure and instrument(s) shall be reviewed by the faculty of the academic unit at four year intervals, and revised when necessary.

The procedure and instrument(s) developed by the faculty of each academic unit shall conform to the following tenets:

Sources of information

Evaluative information regarding teaching ability and effectiveness shall be obtained from faculty peers and students (clientele).  Evaluative information should be obtained from non-faculty cooperators when appropriate.  Each of these populations of evaluators is defined as follows:

  • Faculty Peer - Any person whose academic and professional performance is reviewed for the granting of tenure and awarding of academic rank according to procedures and criteria codified in HR-23 and the Administrative Guidelines to HR-23.  Note for clarification -- A Faculty Peer may hold the same academic rank as the faculty member being evaluated.
  • Non-Faculty Cooperator - Any person who is a member of any team cooperating in the planning, developing, and conducting of any educational program for which the faculty member has significant involvement.  These persons would include but would not be limited to multi-county and county personnel of cooperative extension.
  • Student - Any person receiving any mode of instruction conducted by the faculty member.  Note for Clarification:  Whenever any person receives instruction in a workshop, in-service educational program, meeting, tour or any similar event, that person will be classified as a student during that time regardless of their role/position/title at other times.

Frequency of collecting the information

Evaluative information shall be collected annually for those faculty having the academic rank of Assistant Professor or Associate Professor.

If the faculty member’s extension appointment is 10% or less, the evaluative information may be collected biennially.

Responsibility for collecting the information

  • The academic unit leader shall be responsible for collecting the information. 
  • The unit leader may choose to oversee the collection of information or delegate this responsibility to a senior faculty member. 
  • The unit leader or designate may request the assistance of a county or multi-county agent in the collection of student information. 
  • Student information collected in this manner would be sent immediately to the unit leader or designate. 
  • A staff assistant, administrative aide or administrative assistant may assist in collecting, tabulating and summarizing the information. 
  • The candidate shall not be involved in any of these activities.

Number and kinds of instruments

The faculty of each academic unit may develop and use any number of instruments.  If, in their opinion, one instrument will be effective for all faculty and by each of the three populations of evaluators, faculty would develop only one instrument. 

On the other hand, faculty may wish to develop a specific instrument to be used by each of the three populations.  It would be acceptable for the faculty peers to provide their evaluative information in a letter format rather than use a prepared instrument.

NOTE:  Each population of evaluators will have different perspectives, will be qualified to evaluate different attributes of the teaching ability and effectiveness of the faculty member, and will be looking at the same program and/or activity from a different viewpoint.  It would be desirable to keep these ideas in the forefront when developing any instruments.

The combined faculty of two or more academic units having similar programs may develop instruments to be used across their departments rather than each unit having separate instruments.

  • Regardless of the number of instruments developed or the number of items contained on the instrument, there should be a seven (7) point scale for response rating of each item (1 = lowest rating, 4 = average rating and 7 = highest rating) and an open ended item for additional comments or reactions.
  • Instruments used and/or comments written by faculty peers shall be signed and dated.
  • Instruments used by non-faculty cooperators and students shall be anonymous. 
  • The name and location of the teaching activity, date, name of faculty member being evaluated and the following global item shall appear on each instrument:
  • Rate the overall quality of the instructor.

Mechanics and mechanisms

  • There should be at least two (2) faculty peers chosen to conduct the evaluation of each candidate. 
  • The candidate shall be permitted to suggest the names of several persons to serve as faculty peer evaluators and to select one of the faculty peer evaluators.
  • Each faculty peer evaluator should attend at least two oral presentations made by the candidate during the evaluation year. 
  • Faculty peer evaluators also should review program outlines, plans, computer software, visuals and other materials developed by the candidate for use in the educational program.
  • A sample of non-faculty cooperators who have worked with the faculty member during the evaluation year shall be asked to provide evaluative information.
  • The faculty member shall provide the names of non-faculty cooperators with whom she/he has had significant professional activity and provide a note specifying the nature of the cooperative involvement of each person during the evaluation year.
  • The academic unit leader shall select a sample of evaluators from this list of names.
  • A description of the expectations for the faculty member who is being evaluated shall be distributed to the faculty peer evaluators and the non-faculty cooperator evaluators who are employees of The Pennsylvania State University and its Cooperative Extension. 
  • This description shall include the proportion of time assigned to extension activities.  The distribution of this information to the above mentioned persons will help to reduce conflicts due to different agendas and expectations and help the evaluators concentrate on the teaching ability and effectiveness of the person being evaluated.
  • Student information shall be collected on a preplanned basis from a sample of student groups and teaching activities.  The experiences selected for evaluation should reflect the methods, approaches, programs and activities that represent the variety and diversity of educational activities conducted by the faculty member.  The faculty member shall be involved in identifying the times, places, location and types of teaching activities that shall be evaluated by students.
  • The person assigned the responsibility of distributing and collecting instruments from students (clientele) must be properly instructed so that bias and/or subjectivity do not enter into the process.  The person should read the following statement or a similar statement prepared by the faculty of the academic unit administering the evaluation:

“Place the following information in the proper spaces at the top of the form:

Name of faculty member   Todays date

Location (county, town, or city)  Title of presentation

Penn State University actively evaluates the abilities and effectiveness of its faculty and the programs they present.  Your cooperation and assistance in completing this form will provide the university with information it can use to develop future programs of the highest quality.  Your responses to these brief questions are considered confidential information and you need not identify yourself when completing the form.  When you have completed the form, please place it in the box provided as you leave the meeting room.

Thank you for taking your time to complete this evaluation and for your support of this and other Penn State Cooperative Extension programs.”

The evaluation year shall be July 1 through June 30.  The collection of all evaluative information shall be completed by June 30, summarized and ready for inclusion in the dossier by July 30 of the same year.

Ownership and disposition of information 

  • All information collected through the teaching ability and effectiveness surveys shall belong to the faculty of the academic unit which administers the surveys, not to the faculty member who was evaluated.
  • The original of each faculty peer instrument and/or comments shall be placed into the promotion and tenure dossier of the faculty member who was evaluated.  A copy of each of these instruments and/or comments shall be given to the faculty member.
  • A copy of the summary of the results of the non-faculty cooperators information and a copy of the summary of the results of the students information shall be placed into the promotion and tenure dossier of the faculty member who was evaluated.  A copy of each of these summaries shall be given to the faculty member.