AERA Issues Reports and Recommendations on Higher Education Faculty
AERA Issues Reports and Recommendations on Higher Education Faculty
AERA Issues Reports and Recommendations on Higher Education Faculty

November 2013

AERA released two new reports on college faculty earlier this month—Rethinking Faculty Evaluation and Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in U.S. Universities. These reports, including recommendations issued by AERA Council, stem from the work of two task forces established in 2012 by the Council.

Rethinking Faculty Evaluation: AERA Report and Recommendations on Evaluating Education Research, Scholarship, and Teaching in Postsecondary Education

Rethinking Faculty Evaluation
offers research-based guidelines for addressing how institutions of higher education evaluate research, scholarship, and teaching for tenure-line faculty, in light of the dramatic changes in what faculty do and how colleges and universities are transforming in the 21st century. The report sets forth three general recommendations:

  • To evaluate teaching, focus on student learning outcomes.
  • To evaluate scholarship, go beyond a single-authored article.
  • To evaluate outreach and modes of dissemination, develop valid indicators of equality.

The guidelines are intended as a starting point rather than a one-size-fits-all solution; institutions along the spectrum from research intensive to teaching focused will find their own proper balance.

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in U.S. Universities: AERA Statement and Background Report

This report focuses on the dramatic increase in non-tenure-track faculty (NTTF) in schools, colleges, and departments of education and on the working conditions they encounter. Tenured and tenure-track faculty constituted more than three quarters of faculty positions 40 years ago, but today two thirds of all instructional faculty, and three of every four hires, are off the tenure track.

The reasons for the rise in NTTF are complex and not uniformly understood, but contributing factors include the huge increase in U.S. postsecondary enrollment, the emergence of new sectors such as community colleges, dwindling support for tenure, shrinking state budgets, and disruptions in the traditional financial and delivery models for higher education.

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in U.S. Universities provides four recommendations:

  • Schools, colleges, and departments of education should be judicious in their decisions concerning the employment and expansion of NTTF. In cases where non-tenure-track faculty are employed, academic institutions should provide appropriate conditions of employment and professional support.
  • AERA should develop a statement of principles about the appropriate employment and support of NTTF within the education field.
  • More research should be undertaken on NTTF working in schools, colleges, or departments of education and/or working in other fields.
  • AERA should examine its own operations to ensure that NTTF who are education researchers or faculty in schools, colleges, and departments of education are appropriately supported and recognized in association activities.

These measures would contribute to ensuring the future health of the non-tenure-track professoriate.

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