8 myths about UW lecturers

A post from the FAUW Lecturers Committee.

FAUW first started holding events specifically for Waterloo lecturers in 2014, but there have been lecturers on campus since at least the early ‘90s. With a distinct uptick in lecturer hiring over the last decade or two, there are now lecturers in every one of the University’s six faculties and they make up 18% of the FAUW membership. For many chairs, directors, deans—or just faculty colleagues—who are new to dealing with lecturer-rank faculty, there may be some uncertainty about who these people are and how they fit into their departments and schools. To help explain what lecturer faculty are—and aren’t—here are (in no particular order) eight myths about lecturers at Waterloo.

Myth #1: A lecturer is a lecturer is a lecturer

Fact: The term “lecturer” is often indiscriminately applied to everyone from sessional instructors hired by the course or term to permanent teaching faculty. At Waterloo, “lecturer” is one of the four faculty hiring ranks (the others are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor; see Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments). While sessional instructors are also hired at the rank of lecturer, they’re more correctly called adjunct or special lecturers and are administratively very different from the lecturer-rank regular faculty members (just “lecturers” from here on) that we’re talking about in this post.

Lecturers can have “definite term” or “continuing” appointments. Most lecturer-rank faculty are initially hired on definite-term contracts, which can be repeatedly renewed when they expire, although there is never any guarantee of renewal (see myth #7). Continuing lecturers have permanent, ongoing appointments that don’t have expiry dates. FAUW represents both definite-term and continuing lecturers (but not sessional instructors). About 40% of UW’s lecturers have continuing appointments.

Getting the terminology straight is just half the battle. The specifics of lecturer positions—how teaching loads are defined, what kinds of service and administrative tasks they do—can vary widely between faculties, and even between departments in the same faculty. According to our 2015 lecturers survey, about half of UW’s lecturers have an 80/20 teaching/service ratio; the other half reported a broad variety of teaching/research/service weightings.

Continue reading “8 myths about UW lecturers”

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.

Continue reading “The Twelve Days of Performance Review”

An opportunity to support the Wet’suwet’en people

A message from FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group:

In recent weeks, hundreds of scholars from around the world have signed on to an open letter expressing support for BC’s Wet’suwet’en people and calling on the Canadian Government and the RCMP to cease pipeline work on Unist’ot’en Territory. Read the letter here. If you so choose, you can add your voice as a scholar.

Note: the Indigenization Working Group is an ad hoc committee of FAUW. Its support of the open letter should not be construed as FAUW’s position. Visit our website to learn more about the working group and about Indigenization at Waterloo.

Service Opportunities for Lecturers

Brought to you by the FAUW Lecturers Committee.

Lecturer appointments at Waterloo usually include a service component of anywhere from 20% to 60%. This blog post will address some of the questions lecturers have about navigating this element of their job.

Why should I bother with service?

Service is assessed in your performance review. It is important to seek service opportunities not only because the service you do is directly related to the merit score you receive at the end of the year, but also because it is directly related to the success of the shared governance of the University. In order to be fairly represented, lecturers must be part of the decision-making process. The best way to do that is by serving not only within your department but across your Faculty and the University.

How do I find out what service opportunities are available?

If you’re not sure where to start in finding service opportunities, we recommend you speak to your chair, who may be able to identify needs at least at the department level.

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What Indigenous students want faculty to know

Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with three Indigenous students at the University of Waterloo to hear what they would like faculty members to know about their experiences as Indigenous students in higher education.

Kiel Harris (Gitxsan/Gitanyow) is a third-year student in Planning who grew up in northern British Columbia on two different reserves. Kiel had already completed a college diploma before coming to Waterloo and is, therefore, older than many in his cohort. Kelsey Hewitt (Anishnaabe/Lac Seul First Nation) is a third-year student in Geography and Environmental Management who grew up in Kitchener-Waterloo. Kelsey also identifies as a mature student, having not started university straight out of high school. Finally, Anika McAlpine (Cree/Moose Cree First Nation) is a first-year student in Medicinal Chemistry who grew up off-reserve in northern Ontario, in a community that has a large Indigenous population.

Our conversation was broad and far-reaching, touching on challenges related to creating a visible Indigenous space on campus, concerns about implicit bias if students declare their Indigeneity to their professors, and the transitional issues Indigenous students from remote communities might face.

In this blog post, I focus on the students’ ideas about what faculty members can do right now to support Indigenization and Indigenous students in their classrooms. I’ve organized their thoughts chronologically, beginning with the first day of class and carrying through to final assessments.

Continue reading “What Indigenous students want faculty to know”

Meet FAUW’s Equity Committee

On April 6, 2018, our members voted to change the name of the Status of Women and Equity Committee to “Equity Committee.”

The Equity Committee is concerned with equity issues, in line with the protected grounds of the Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The committee engages in educational and advocacy activities as appropriate and liaises with other related committees of the University, OCUFA, and CAUT.

The name change was prompted by a desire to better reflect all aspects of the committee’s focus, past and present. The new name also reflects current initiatives on campus to ensure diverse, inclusive, and representative equity-based action. Our mandate is to represent the interests of a range of equity-seeking groups and it’s important to us to more accurately reflect that diversity in our language.

The committee’s name will be followed by “formerly the Status of Women and Equity Committee” for the next several months to facilitate the transition. Please bear with us as we update our website and other documentation. Note that the stand-alone SWEC website will be archived soon and the Equity Committee section of the FAUW website is your best source of up-to-date information.

Learn more about the Equity Committee on the FAUW website.

Territorial Acknowledgements and Indigenization: A Primer

Shannon Dea, Philosophy; FAUW vice president

Territorial acknowledgements

If you have received an email from me in the past year, you will have seen this statement in the footer: “I acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to Six Nations, which includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.” You have likely heard a similar acknowledgement at campus events in the past year or two. The statement is a territorial acknowledgement.

While reasons for using territorial acknowledgements vary from person to person and from group to group, I now use a territorial acknowledgement in my email, on my course syllabi, at the beginning of research talks, and even in the footnotes of my articles for two main reasons: out of respect for the past and out of commitment to the future.

Respecting the past

I am showing respect for the past in two ways when I use a territorial acknowledgement. First, I connect myself with a centuries-old tradition practiced by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (FNIM) people. Second, I show my respect for the people who preceded settlers (i.e., non-FNIM folks) on this land. Continue reading “Territorial Acknowledgements and Indigenization: A Primer”