Scene: the Department Chair's office. Proffie P reports for his annual performance review interview. Proffies are graded on a scale of 1 (unsatisfactory) to 5 (greatly exceeds expectations) for teaching, research and service.
Chair (looking at P's report): Hmm, well, research is not a problem. You've published long papers in good journals recently and, hmm, I'd say you are, uh, hm, in, I guess, the top 25 percent of the department in terms of papers. So, hmm, you know, I have no problem giving you a 4 for research.
|Am I Hank, or am I Walter?|
Prof P: Good. I'll do my best to keep that up.
Chair: Teaching however, hmm, you know, continues to be an area of, uh, concern.
Prof P. How so? I taught two graduate courses, and got two students in them to decide to do thesis work in my area. And for my undergraduate courses: is there anything extraordinary about my success rates?
Chair (looking at report): Well, hmm, you know, actually, both for course A and course B, the percentage of students passing was slightly lower than the mean, but within normal range. But enrollment in course A was, hmm, you know, quite low, and in course B about half of, erm, hmm, what it normally is.
Prof P: I have no control over that, over the number of students who sign up for my classes. This can't possibly be used to evaluate teaching.
Chair: Well, hmm, actually, as a matter of fact you do have some, hmm, er, influence over that, through your SNEF scores. And your SNEF scores for course B were, uh, you know, quite low, especially on this one question we use for comparison (out of 24).
Prof P. As you know, less than one-third of the students do the online evaluations, and it is safe to guess which third of the class that is, right? We don't even know if all the students doing evaluations were still attending.
Chair. Yes, that's true, but nevertheless you know that, hmm, the administration and, well, uh, you know, students, pay attention to these numbers and so, yadda, yadda, yadda, same old story ad nauseam.
(Prof and Chair kick that around for a while. Then the Chair pulls his rabbit out of the hat.)
Chair: I would really like to see your graded finals for course B. Or to have a committee look at it, to see if, hmm, you know, your grading standards are, well, in line with what, hmm, most of the rest of us here do for this course.
Prof: That's out of the question. You'll use the same data to evaluate me as you have for the rest of the faculty. Colleagues have visited my classes and written reports, and there are no complaints from students that my tests are too hard. Academic freedom includes deciding on my own grading policies. What do you expect to find, anyway?
Chair: You're making it all about procedure, when I just want more data. Look, hmm, uh, I'll make a deal with you: I will look at your graded finals myself, and, well, not use my observations in my report. In return, uh, you know, I'll give you a 3 for teaching (up from 1 last year.) This will give you, uhm, a "meets expectations" overall. I guess (so I'll be eligible for sabbaticals and merit raises).
Prof: The answer is still no. I'm not about to agree to create a precedent and introduce inspections of graded finals as part of the evaluation of teaching in the department; it's intrusive and unnecessary. That course is over and done with anyway, and no students complained about their grades.
Chair: Are you sure about this? I'm making a big concession here, and, hmm, you know, you could make one in return. I'll give you about a week to think about it, and, well, not upload my report until I hear from you.
Prof.: I very much doubt I'll change my mind. (Stands up to leave.) I guess this interview is over, then.
The Prof leaves the Chair's office, and walks out of the building. Once at a safe distance, he pulls the tiny recording device out of his pocket , and turns it off. The interview took about an hour, it will be a lot of work to transcribe it; but well worth it. And then he starts thinking: I grade my finals like Santa; maybe I should take this deal. Hank wouldn't, but Walter would. Am I Hank, or am I Walter?