Faculty Teaching and Assessment
By Dr. Mark D. Evans, CFE Director
Faculty assessment and evaluation at USMA should seek to aid faculty development as teachers. The process should begin very early by articulating the mission, goals and vision of the department (consistent with the Academy’s) and/or describing how department leaders interpret those of the Academy.
That is, consistent with the Academy’s mission, goals, and vision, departments should articulate to what activities faculty members should be allocating their time. Models of “right” should be presented to faculty, not models that need to be mimicked, but models that present a mark on the wall — “this is what success looks like.” Leaders should be distributing their own support form, or a simpler version describing what MAJ X or CPT Y’s support forms might look like. Early counseling should include opportunities for new faculty to ask questions and make suggestions regarding their prioritization of activities, to see if they have properly interpreted their leader’s intentions.
In addition, leaders should provide spot-checks to provide formative feedback. The emphasis is on early formative feedback, not waiting to provide final evaluations at the end of the review cycle. So, leaders should routinely be visiting junior faculty classrooms to see how they are doing and to provide formative feedback.
Until last week, I was under the impression that early counseling was routinely practiced across all departments (and in the Army), and that senior leaders routine visited junior faculty (indeed, all faculty) classes to provide early, formative feedback. So, it surprised me to learn, in discussions with junior faculty, that some have never been visited in their classrooms while teaching. Not once in six months! I was also surprised that some have not received an initial, individual counseling with leaders or raters. Perhaps some leaders are thinking that sufficient information has been disseminated through group briefings, etc. that individual counseling sessions have not yet been required. However, some officers I spoke with are looking for more guidance and not yet feeling comfortable going up their chain to get it. In the absence of other guidance, faculty will turn to peers for anecdotal information, but “straight from the horse’s mouth” is always best.
So, this article is simply a collegial reminder, or request, to check to see if your mentoring/ counseling/ classroom visit systems are up and running smoothly. Run a systems check with your department leaders and see if you are where you need to be. I might suggest a visible classroom visit board, posted in a public area, like that used by BS&L. While getting a cup of coffee, you can spot-check who has or has not been counseled/visited in the classroom recently. Such a display is a public reminder that mentoring is serious business here.
Thanks for all of your efforts to actively guide the development of our junior faculty.