Unplugging – How four professors successfully disconnect from work

A couple of months ago, FAUW hosted a panel on how faculty members can “unplug” when away from work. With reading week upon us, we thought we’d share some of the insights from that event.

These are not pie-in-the-sky ideas dreamed up by productivity bloggers or people who don’t sleep. These are real methods for protecting your time practiced by professors at UWaterloo who are approximately as busy as you are.

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Highlights from the January 30 FAUW Board meeting

Every two weeks or so, we give you a run-down of the major non-confidential topics discussed at our Board of Directors meetings. Here are the latest items:

  1. A new Board member. Patrick Lam (Electrical and Computer Engineering/Computer Science, Director-at-large elected in 2019) has stepped down and gone on sabbatical. Alfred Yu (also ECE) is stepping in until June 30. Nominations for this seat and the six Faculty-specific seats on the Board are open now and due in March.
  2. Climate Justice Working Group. The Board approved a proposal from members to form a FAUW Climate Justice Working Group. Its objectives include building climate justice awareness on campus, creating a community of practice for faculty, and sharing climate justice research with the regional community. You’ll hear more about this new group soon!
  3. Graduate Students Association unionization vote. The GSA Council (similar to our Council of Reps) has voted in favour of “the formation of a union of graduate TAs, RAs, and sessional instructors.” This is a green light for the GSA to explore the option of unionization. There is a detailed explanation on the GSA website. The Imprint has also published a statement from GSA VP David Billedeau.
  4. Our teaching workload project. We’ve collected some information about teaching workload norms and practices from our Council of Representatives. Unsurprisingly, we found wide variation across campus. This is back on the agenda at the Council of Reps meeting on February 5 as we work on narrowing our focus and filling in gaps in the data.
  5. Departmental addenda. Every Faculty has guidelines for performance reviews. Every department has (or is supposed to have) departmental addenda to those guidelines with department-specific criteria (teaching workload norms, for example). These are mandated by the Memorandum of Agreement and they’re important because they set out what the expectations are for your evaluation. We’ll be talking about what to include in these addenda—and why now is the time to update them—at the Council meeting on Wednesday.
  6. Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour. A subcommittee of the Faculty Relations and Staff Relations committees is reviewing the feedback from the Policy 33 consultations.

Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: Two-Eyed Seeing

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

“Two-Eyed Seeing” by Cheryl Bartlett, Murdena Marshall, and Albert Marshall* reports on a program developed at the University of Cape Breton to increase Indigenous enrollment in science. The article describes and reflects on a learning process that could be used to move post-secondary programs toward a recognition of the strengths of Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing and those of “mainstream (Western) science.” One key challenge the authors identify is finding the humility to acknowledge the circumstantial relevance of different ways of knowing. Ensuring that the process respects distinct knowledge communities requires institutional participation by Indigenous elders to validate the path taken.

Participants in the reading circle were divided about the value of the “two-eyed seeing” framework. On the one hand, some regarded it as a conciliatory position that dodges more radical concerns about the violence of colonial ways of knowing. Some forms of academic knowledge are not benign ‘eyes to see by’ but reflect practices of dominance. Interpreting the framework closer to its intended STEM field of application, other participants could see two-eyed seeing as a promising generative framework. The co-learning journey described showed a process whereby new knowledge “tools” could be incorporated into a sovereign cultural setting.

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What's on our agenda for 2020

Happy new year! Our big priority for this term is to keep moving forward on policy development and research professor representation. Here are some of the smaller (and not-so-small) things we talked about at the January 16 board meeting:

  1. OCUFA’s court challenge. OCUFA has voted to join ten unions representing more than 250,000 Ontario workers to launch a coordinated Charter challenge against the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—formerly Bill 124—this is the legislation that forces our pay raises to be small for three years.
  2. The FAUW Appreciation Award. We’re starting to consider suggestions for this year’s recipient(s) of the FAUW Appreciation Award, which recognizes people from across the University who have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of faculty members.
  3. Professional licensing fees. We’re doing an environmental scan about how professional licenses are handled across campus. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of variation in terms of who needs to be licensed, how many people in a unit need to maintain their license, and who pays for it. For anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about, professional programs (e.g. planning, optometry, engineering) typically need a minimum number of faculty members to hold professional licenses in order to maintain the accreditation for their school/department/program.
  4. The switch from Scantron to Akindi. You have at least three options for digital grading solutions, including Akindi, UW’s new go-to “multiple-choice exam processing service.” One of our board members recommends Crowdmark as a way to reduce your workload. We’re exploring the possibility of hosting a lunch & learn on digital grading systems—let us know in the comments if you’d be interested. Learn more and register for Akindi training on the IST website.
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People You Should Know: Lauren Byl, Copyright & Licensing Librarian

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Lauren Byl is the Copyright and Licensing Librarian at the University of Waterloo.

What does a copyright librarian do?

In my role, I answer copyright questions about use of materials in teaching, such as those related to the Fair Dealing Advisory, as well as provide guidance on copyright during the publication process. I’m also responsible for negotiating the Library’s licenses for electronic resources.

Why should faculty members know about your role?

Much of the work faculty do triggers copyright in some way—whether it’s their own rights as authors, asking permission to use other’s work, or what they can use in the classroom. Faculty should know about my role because I’m here to help make copyright easier to understand and provide guidance on University best practices.

“There’s no end to the ways that people consider using or adapting works.”

What are the most common questions you help faculty with?

On the teaching side, the most common question is “What can I share in LEARN?” Faculty want to know if they can share slides with imagescontent from eJournals, or scans of book chapters.

On the publishing side, the most common question is “What can I do with work I’ve published?” Faculty usually sign over copyright to their publisher during the publishing process; the agreement states what an author can do with their own work. 

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Fall 2019 end-of-term round-up of FAUW activities

Before everyone disappears for the holidays (who are we kidding, most of you won’t see this until January), here’s a quick re-cap of what we’ve been doing this term, including an update on our priorities for 2019–20.

How we’re doing on our 2019–20 goals so far

  • Policy development: We are in the midst of some big discussions about how to improve our policy development process as a whole. Policy 33 (ethical behaviour) is moving along—FRC is processing 100 pages of feedback from the University community and will give direction on changes in the new year. Bryan is still hoping to get this approved before his term is up! Policies 14 (parental leave), 57 (accommodations), and 76 (faculty appointments) are still in progress.
  • Conflict of interest guidelines: Faculty Relations Committee is finalizing these.
  • Workload: We distributed a questionnaire to our Council of Representatives and are finishing up gathering the last of those and starting to analyze the information. We will share the results with our members next term.
  • Representation: Both research professors and our membership voted to support our position statement on representing research professors. This is at the Faculty Relations Committee now.

11 other things that happened this term

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The Twelve Days of Performance Review

It’s that time of year—the time when faculty members at Waterloo start thinking about writing their annual performance review documents and putting together their files. In this spirit, the FAUW Equity Committee offers twelve tips to help you think about equity as an essential part of this process.

A title card with mildly festive graphics: holly, mistletoe, etc.

On the first day of performance review season, collaborate with members of your own department to demystify the review process, especially for new faculty members. All APRs are local; what someone does in another department is probably not the same in yours. Consider starting a sharing circle: pool APR reports, with or without the numbers attached, so that you can get a feel for the genre. Pay it forward. Mentor those junior to you.

On the second day of performance review season, focus on your teaching effectiveness in the full knowledge that student questionnaires correlate principally with non-instructional factors (scheduling, student interest in the topic, grade expectations, and the like).

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) states unequivocally:

“Using SQCTs [student questionnaires on courses and teaching] for performance evaluation penalizes women, racialized and LGBTQ2S+ faculty, and faculty with disabilities. These faculty are also more likely to be the target of harassment in the anonymous comments sections of the questionnaires. Further, using SQCTs for performance evaluation risks undermining effective teaching and intellectual diversity.”

To cite this report in your own performance review documentation:
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “Report of the OCUFA Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching Working Group.” February 2019. https://ocufa.on.ca/assets/OCUFA-SQCT-Report.pdf

On the third day of performance review season, start a broader discussion at the department level. Every department has guiding documents that outline how to evaluate performance. Share the recent arbitration ruling at Ryerson University (Ryerson University v. The Ryerson Faculty Association, 2018) that student evaluations of teaching via course questionnaires are valuable instruments for “captur[ing] student experience” but cannot be “used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure.”

Or talk about how the Department of Psychology at Waterloo decided not to use student evaluations of teaching in their review process, citing the bias inherent in these evaluations. This effort was rejected at the decanal level, but maybe we just need more departments to take a principled stand. Consider citing the OCUFA document (see: day two) in your department’s review documentation. Ask what other sources of bias might exist in your department’s process.

On the fourth day of performance review season, your department gets a special gift: a junior faculty member on the performance review committee! Rotating junior members of the department onto the committee is important because it will pull back the curtain for these colleagues, but also because it can be unfair to junior faculty members to be evaluated only by senior colleagues. The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between FAUW and the University delineates that there must be five members to assist the Chair on this committee (see section 13.5.6), but does not specify rank or other details about these members.

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