News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for September 27

We had two visitors to start this meeting. First, Jasmin Habib provided an update on the Course Evaluation Project Team’s implementation phase (CEPT2), in light of the recent Ryerson decision on the use of student evaluations in tenure and promotion decisions. Given that there is another project team exploring other ways of measuring teaching quality and performance (e.g., peer evaluation), CEPT2’s position, as reported at Senate on September 17, is that Waterloo is ahead of the curve and is already working to ameliorate some of the concerns raised by the decision at Ryerson. The issue of addressing bias remains contentiousThe group has nearly completed a prototype and are preparing to test it. FAUW will keep an eye on the test process to ensure it doesn’t disadvantage any vulnerable faculty.

Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach then joined us to give an update from the OCUFA (Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations) Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee. He wants to raise some awareness and support for CAUT’s upcoming Fair Employment Week and OCUFA’s Fairness for Contract Faculty campaign, in light of the growing informalization of teaching and other kinds of professorial work in Canada. So check those links out.

We had a short discussion about the timeline and communication around proposed changes to our dues structure. These changes, if adopted by the membership, will bring FAUW in line with the conventions of other faculty associations, and alleviate some of the existing inequalities in the existing structure. More information about the proposal is available on our website. Voting members will receive an email with the details next week and a link to the online ballot on October 15. Voting will be open from October 15 to 19.

We spent some time reviewing responses from our members to the Faith Goldy event that did not go ahead earlier this year, in light of the Ontario government’s recent mandate that universities issue a free speech policy. Most responses supported our position on the event, which was issued on April 23rd and emphasized the association’s support of immigrant and non-Canadian members.

The Board appointed Mathieu Doucet as the new FAUW representative on the University Advisory Committee on Traffic Violations and Parking. We would like to see the committee expand its mandate to include active transportation and are confident that Mathieu will be a passionate advocate for this.

We ended, as always, with a review of upcoming events, including the campus tour on Thursday, the Council of Representatives meeting on October 17,  a workshop on university governance November 9, and a talk by Mary Hardy on November 16 about the joint university pension plan being developed for University of Toronto, University of Guelph, and Queen’s University employees.

Did you know that UW has a faculty writing support group?

Just because you do a lot of it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Whether you want to improve your writing skills or habits, need some direction, or could use a push to get the work done, you might benefit from the Writing and Communication Centre’s Faculty Writing Group. We’ve heard great things from our members about this and want to make sure you’ve heard about it before registration closes on October 1.

Here’s what the Centre says about the group:

The writing group will take place every Wednesday from 4:30pm to 5:30pm for eight weeks: October 17th to December 5th, 2018. During this hour faculty will set and share writing goals, report on their progress, give and receive feedback on excerpts of group members’ works-in-progress, and learn about and discuss new writing strategies.

All faculty are also welcome to attend the weekly drop-in Faculty Writing Cafe, which takes place every Wednesday from 2:00pm to 4:30pm in SCH 228F. The Writing and Communication Centre also offers free 50-minute consultations with their Faculty Support Specialist.

Learn more about all of these programs on the WCC website.

Want more professional development opportunities? Check out the professional development page of our Faculty Guide.

News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for September 13, 2018

Daniel Cockayne (Geography and Environmental Management) and Brent Matheson (Math/Business and Accounting) are taking over the Board meeting recaps this year. Here’s Daniel’s first go: 

The first FAUW Board meeting of the 2018/2019 academic year (meet your new Board members here!) began with a summary of FAUW’s finances by Michelle Adams from the accountancy firm RLB, which audits FAUW’s finances annually. You’ll be glad to hear that she confirmed that FAUW’s financial situation is sound!

Long in the works, there is to be a new policy that will establish a clear process for dealing with accommodations for faculty and staff. As an FS-class policy, it will need to be approved by the faculty and staff relations committees (FRC and SRC). The terms of reference for the policy have been drafted, and a committee will be appointed soon.

We discussed the final details of the agreement between FAUW and the Renison Association of Academic Staff (RAAS). Pending adoption by both the RAAS and FAUW memberships, this agreement will make RAAS members affiliate members of FAUW. They will pay FAUW dues in exchange for access to specific services and resources. We expect to bring this to the membership at the Fall General Meeting on December 4.

The Board approved new election procedures, now posted on our website, which mostly just document existing practices and will be reflected in the next call for nominations for FAUW President this fall.

We discussed the current re-development of student perception surveys at Waterloo in light of the arbitration decision at Ryerson University, which ruled against the use of student surveys in tenure and promotion decisions. This has established an important precedent for faculty associations and universities across Canada. It is important to emphasize that this decision does not dismiss the value of student surveys wholesale, just their use for summative decisions pertaining to merit, tenure, and promotion. FAUW discussed how this decision affects (or should affect) Waterloo’s current Course Evaluation Project Team 2 (CEPT2) and Complimentary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). (See also: Jay Michela’s recent analysis of this issue and all our blog posts about student surveys.)

Another point of discussion was FAUW’s response to the recent announcement from the Office of the Premiere that publicly-assisted universities and colleges must post a policy on free speech by January 1, 2019. There were questions around precisely how formalized such a policy needs to be and the kinds of protections for free speech that the University of Waterloo already has in place. There will certainly be more to come on this topic. Stay tuned.

FAUW’s Priorities for 2018-19

—FAUW President Bryan Tolson with an update on what we’re working on right now and what’s coming up this year.

Welcome to a new academic year! I hope you all took some time off this summer. FAUW is gearing up for a new academic year and I want to quickly fill you in on the array of things we are working on—and to highlight two items that are timely for you to consider putting some thought into.

Performance evaluation addenda

First off, we are quickly approaching the deadline (October 15) for each department and school to update its Addendum to their Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines. One quick example of why this might be useful: FAUW thinks this is a reasonable place for departments to specify how teaching tasks are counted and/or what the normal teaching loads are for both tenured/ tenure-track faculty and lecturers in your department.

While you’re at it, make sure to change any reference to “course/teaching evaluations” to read “student course perception surveys” as per the decision of University Senate. Continue reading “FAUW’s Priorities for 2018-19”

Feedback on Feedback Questionnaires’ Use and Misuse

Jay Michela addresses misconceptions in Alex Usher’s analysis of the Ryerson arbitration decision. 

Guest post by Jay Michela, Psychology. 

Alex Usher of Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) has offered his analysis of an arbitration decision at Ryerson University which ruled against conventional use of students’ course ratings for personnel decisions (tenure and promotion decisions). It has been circulated within our university and elsewhere (e.g., to OCUFA), and appears on the HESA website under the headline “Time to Talk Teaching Assessments.”

I was moved to respond to Usher’s statement because it expresses many of the misconceptions that exist around summative use of students’ ratings of courses and instructors.

What follows is the full text of Alex Usher’s analysis, with my responses interspersed. I hope this format for explaining the urgent need to change university practices around student questionnaires turns out to be more engaging and pithy than some of the literature reviews and other research reports on which this material is based. Continue reading “Feedback on Feedback Questionnaires’ Use and Misuse”

FAUW Statement on Faculty Training in Student Mental Health

FAUW recognizes the key role that faculty play in student wellness. Instructors themselves often recognize students in distress or are alerted by concerned teaching assistants. Whether communicating with troubled students directly or making referral decisions, faculty are better prepared if they have a) context-appropriate training in mental health and b) clear communication pathways to follow when they have concerns about students.

FAUW is pleased to see these points captured by recommendations 17 and 22 of the PAC-SMH Report. Here’s what we like about those recommendations and how we’d like to see them implemented. Continue reading “FAUW Statement on Faculty Training in Student Mental Health”

Ryerson Arbitration Decision Regarding Use of Student Evaluations of Teaching

A decision has come in regarding the use of Student Evaluations of Teaching at Ryerson University.

Below is a summary excerpted from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) blog.

Read the full decision: Ryerson University v Ryerson Faculty Association, 2018 CanLII 58446 (ON LA) Continue reading “Ryerson Arbitration Decision Regarding Use of Student Evaluations of Teaching”