News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25

The start of our October 25 Board meeting was disrupted by a visit from a familiar-looking chicken farmer and their prize chicken.

(Watch the video or read the description on YouTube.)

Something was also a little off about the FAUW executive officers that day…

FAUW staff dressed as treasurer Dan Brown, president Bryan Tolson, and vice president Shannon Dea.
Is that the FAUW staff team, or executive officers Dan Brown, Bryan Tolson, and Shannon Dea? We can’t tell!*

But hey, there was candy!

Halloween-themed cellophane bags of candy, and chocolate brownies with green gummy bears on top.

The actual meeting

Reports from visitors

After this bizarre delay, the meeting began with an update from Fatma Gzara on the progress of the the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). CTAPT was tasked with “researching and developing methods of assessing teaching and learning complementary to Student Course Perception surveys.” Fatma told us that CTAPT has hired a researcher to review the literature and how teaching is assessed at other universities, the U15 in particular.

Referendum results

The results of our two referenda came back this week, one on FAUW’s dues structure and another on some relatively minor changes to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Both passed, with large majorities of FAUW’s membership in agreement (86% of voters were in favour of the dues change and 94% for the MoA changes). If you missed the votes or want to learn more about them, read more about why our dues structure is changing and the changes to the MoA. Continue reading “News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25”

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”

News From Your Board – September 14 Meeting

Welcome to a new series of FAUW blogs, “News From Your Board”. To increase the transparency of board activities and keep members up-to-date, we’ll be sharing some of the non-confidential discussion from our biweekly Board meetings.

The first highlight from the September 14 meeting was welcoming Bryan Tolson to his first board meeting as President. Bryan began with the always-aspirational goal to end the meeting on time!

We revisited ideas and plans for the year from our day-long retreat at the start of September:

  • better defining our membership
  • further communications improvements (like this series)
  • continued aspirations for a more robust teaching evaluation system to complement student surveys
  • how we can contribute to Indigenization efforts across campus

A regular part of each Board meeting is reports from FAUW committees and constituent positions, including updates from the Faculty Relations Committee (FRC). FRC is the main venue through which FAUW and the administration work together on collegial governance of the University. We also hear from representatives of the Lecturers, Academic Freedom & Tenure (AF&T), Status of Women & Equity, and Pension and Benefits committees.

The last agenda item was the slate of upcoming FAUW events. Our packed Fall schedule includes the New Faculty & Family Welcome Dinner on September 22, a workshop for mid-career faculty on September 29, FAUW’s 60th anniversary party on October 26, a Council of Representatives meeting on November 14, and the Fall General Meeting on December 6.

And with that, Bryan managed to squeeze one of the most ambitious September agendas in recent FAUW memory into the actual scheduled time! Congrats Bryan! Looking forward to the next meeting in two weeks!

—Peter Johnson, communications lead, FAUW Board of Directors