Here’s some of what we talked about at the last FAUW Board of Directors meeting:
Teaching assessment. The new student course perception (SCP) survey tool is launching this term, and FAUW (still) has concerns about implementing the new survey tool. In particular, we’re concerned that it’s being rolled out without training on how results will affect APR scores and before complementary teaching assessment methods are in place.
There is a large body of research that demonstrates unavoidable bias in SCPs and consequently argues they should never be used for summative assessment. The Renison Association of Academic Staff has reached agreement in its Collective Agreement that course evaluations will not be a required part of annual reviews nor tenure and promotion processes. In 2018, the arbitrator in a case at Ryerson ruled that student evaluations of teaching can’t be used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure, based on expert opinions that student evaluations cannot be used to assess teaching effectiveness.
FAUW staff. Katie Damphouse is back from leave and is once again your go-to person for help with navigating workplace policies and procedures! Hiring for the Executive Manager position is under way. We ask for your continued patience as Katie ramps up to full time and we complete the hiring process for the Executive Manager.
In absolutely no particular order, here are some of the things we’ve been working on or talking about this month. As always, feel free to comment below or otherwise get in touch with a Board member to share your input.
Major win: The Registrar’s Office (RO) will schedule synchronous course activities on request this fall (as usual). We also got confirmation that for the RO to not provide this service would require a decision at Senate. Thank you to everyone who helped advocate for this at Senate and through other channels. We’ve since released a statement to all members about the decision by three Faculties (Arts, Math, and Engineering) to not use RO scheduling services for fall term.
There are new remote teaching guidelines regarding privacy and intellectual property—give them a read if you haven’t yet. We were not consulted about these guidelines and don’t have official opinions on them yet.
HR has been prorating merit increases for faculty on paid sick leave. We believe this contravenes the Memorandum of Agreement (while there are provisions in the MoA for prorating merit, they are for unpaid leaves) and we are discussing this at Faculty Relations Committee.
The end is in sight: The Policy 76 drafting committee has sent a draft to FRC. FRC is advising on next steps for consultation.
We are sorting out what we will do in place of our usual new faculty social events in July and August. The University’s new faculty orientation (in which we play a supporting role) will be fully online.
The Equity Office postponed its Pride celebrations in light of the Black Lives Matter protests and the vast increase in disclosures of racism from members of the UW community. The Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group, on which FAUW is represented, has issued a statement in support of this decision.
We tried out Microsoft Teams’ new ‘raise hand’ feature. It added some efficiency to the meeting—just remember to put your hand down after you speak. 😉
We heard about the updates Bryan (Tolson, FAUW president) is getting about the Integrated Co-ordination and Planning Committee (pandemic response) discussions. It’s not quite the regular communication that UW President Feridun Hamdullahpur suggested at Senate or in his virtual town hall last week, but it’s helping keep us in the loop.
We talked about some of our major pandemic-related concerns (now itemized on our website), including the role of Senate in deciding things like whether the Registrar’s Office will schedule meet times for the fall term or not (spoiler alert: we think this should be a Senate decision).
The CEPT2 and CTAPT motions both passed at Senate. Bryan voted against the CEPT2 update. We’re very happy about the support for CTAPT at Senate and that Waterloo now has a strong, public mandate to use means other than student surveys in evaluating teaching quality.
We discussed our recent member survey about preparing for spring and fall teaching. The results of that are on our website now: 2020 teaching survey results. We are particularly concerned that, at the time of the survey (May 8–13), 71% of respondents teaching in the fall said it was not clear to them how decisions were being made about how their courses should be delivered. Another important finding is that 74% of respondents teaching in spring felt more unprepared than usual at the start of term and only 53% felt that they received adequate support for spring term overall. Which is why…
We formally adopted the position that student course perception surveys for spring 2020 should be used only at the discretion of instructors, as was the case for winter 2020. We’ll be advocating for that position with the administration. We’re also starting to talk about how to address 2020 performance reviews, overall. That’s with our Equity Committee now.
We talked about the various challenges the library is having in responding to the needs of researchers and students while buildings are closed and books are not circulating. FAUW is grateful to our colleagues in the library for all the difficult work they are doing in enabling our members’ work.
We got an update about T2200 tax forms and claiming home-office expenses. The update is that there will be an update from the University at the end of this week. We have some interim info about T2200s on our website. (Keep in mind that this is for next year’s taxes. On a related note: we don’t have an answer yet about claiming these same expenses (i.e. your home energy bill) on your FPER, but that also won’t be relevant until next year, as this year’s FPER still only applies to expenses incurred up to March 31. Many connectivity and equipment expenses are already eligible for FPER, so keep your receipts.
We are picking up our faculty teaching workload survey that got sidelined in March. We gathered data from the Council of Representatives in the fall and presented preliminary findings at the February Council Meeting, but still have gaps. We will soon be sharing everything we have so far and crowd-sourcing corrections from members.
Reports from the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team and Course Evaluation Project Team are going to Senate on May 19. You can read them in the Senate agenda as soon as they’re posted (they should be up any minute now).. The first part of the Senate meeting is open to the public, but since guests can’t speak during the meeting, we encourage you to make sure our faculty senators know how you feel about the recommendations in these reports.
We got a preview of some of the options for health benefits plan changes that are being considered by the Holistic Benefits Working Group. The proposed options will eventually be public in a Pension & Benefits Committee agenda, at which point members can read and send feedback to FAUW and/or the faculty representatives on the Pension & Benefits Committee.
We are finishing assembling our negotiating team. We will be polling all our members about negotiation priorities over the next term, so start thinking about what you’d like to see. Section 10 of the Memorandum of Agreement has all the details about negotiations.
We heard that administrators are starting to reach out to members regarding reduced workload to retirement, early retirement, and unpaid leaves of absence. If you are considering any of these options, we strongly encourage you to talk to our AF&T team first so they can help you identify the most appropriate solution for your situation (which could be an alternate to those being offered). This way, you can be as informed as possible when you speak to your Chair/Dean.
Our regular updates about FAUW Board activities have been supplanted by our COVID-19 messages recently, but now that those have slowed, here’s an overdue update on some other things we’ve been working on (and also more pandemic developments). I hope you can all find a few minutes to read this and get up to date on FAUW’s activities and efforts on your behalf.
Thank you to everyone who attended our Spring General Meeting on April 7 and to those who asked questions. I think it went well under the circumstances and attendance was great, with over 100 people tuning in. Much of the content of this post is from my president’s report at that meeting, but there are a few new points as well.
New FAUW Board members
We welcomed some new Board members this term. Jordan Hale replaced Sarah Brown as our liaison from the Librarians and Archivists Association, and we have two short-term replacements for members on leave: Brian Kendall (taking Vivian Choh’s Science seat) and Alfred Yu (replacing Pat Lam as a director-at-large).
Congratulations to our newly elected Board members starting their term on July 1: Joel Dubin (AHS), Kate Lawson (Arts), Alfred Yu (Engineering), Peter Johnson (Environment), Nomair Naeem (Math), Heidi Engelhardt (Science), and Narveen Jandu (at-large). We were pleased to see high voter turnout this year: up to 65% of eligible members voted for these positions. Thanks again to everyone who ran in this election.
Policy drafting committees have had no support from the Secretariat since March 12 (their office, like most, has had to triage). FAUW’s position is that if a drafting committee deems it appropriate to continue their work, then they should do so. Some committees have been working and it seems support from the Secretariat is now starting to come back.
Something was also a little off about the FAUW executive officers that day…
But hey, there was candy!
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.
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 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.
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”→
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.
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