Fine arts faculty evaluation process in higher education: Its value as a motivator of teaching improvement and lessons for administrators

Date

2008-12

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Texas Tech University

Abstract

Students expect quality teaching. Foremost among the considerations for arriving at this conclusion is research data that will help determine what elements -- if any -- of the annual evaluation process arts faculty in higher education consider, in lieu of meeting this expectation. Administrators can speak of this goal to faculty, even offering up incentives for paying attention to and working toward achieving it. However, until faculty are asked if they use any part of this annual "rite-of-passage" to build their expertise in instruction, speaking about it is all that has taken place. Direct input from the faculty members themselves is required for any real analysis and the only way to gain access to this applicable information is to ask the faculty members themselves. If arts administrators want faculty to improve teaching, they must first identify those elements of the annual review that pertain specifically to teaching in the arts disciplines. Although this research does not advocate the design nor use of an arts-specific evaluation instrument for teaching performance, I believe an argument can be made that the uniqueness of the arts warrants investigation into the importance of doing so; subsequently, for future studies on the subject, researchers may question whether or not a separate, unique instrument should be developed and utilized. From my analysis, I have concluded that there are three major areas of emphasis when faculty seek to tie teaching improvement to faculty evaluation: (1) faculty place significant value upon what their students say about their teaching ability, (2) unless the faculty member perceives s/he is being administratively supported, there is little interest in developing teaching ability beyond its present status, and (3) arts faculty in higher education care little for the exercise of annual evaluation, unless it has tangible benefits for improving teaching. Higher education arts faculty teaching in the areas of the visual arts, music, theatre, and dance were participants in this study. As well, these educators were employed as such at institutions with membership in the Southwest Theatre Association. Although many participated, a larger level of participation came from those who teach in the visual arts and music. The findings of this study may be of benefit to faculty and administration alike. If teaching performance is indeed a part of the mission and purpose of a given institution, this research may be seen as viable when faculty work to determine what they want to pursue in terms of developing their teaching. Likewise, administrators who care to consider the input of the faculty may find that they do no have to work alone. In fact, chances are that this study, if seriously considered, will both aid faculty and administration to work together to develop quality teaching for the benefit of students.

Description

Keywords

Teaching improvement, Higher education, Fine arts faculty

Citation