Filtered by author: Michael Bottini Clear Filter

Faculty Evaluation as Development

The evaluation of faculty members is an important process at colleges and universities.  Faculty play the major role in the functioning of colleges and universities and the performance of the faculty is a significant factor in determining the quality of institutions of higher education.  National institutional accrediting organizations (e.g., Middle States, WASC, etc.) require that colleges and universities present evidence on the method that is used to evaluate faculty members and the way that information is used.  Specialized program accreditors (e.g., AMA, ARC-PA, ACOTE, etc.) also require that the programs they accredit have a carefully constructed plan to evaluate faculty and a plan for the use of that information.  

Faculty members have three major responsibilities: teaching, scholarship, and service.  Colleges and universities, and the schools and programs therein, place different weights on each of these factors depending on the goals and objectives of that college, university and program.  Teaching is usually evaluated using student course evaluations and some institutions use peer reviews.  Student course evaluations can be helpful, but they should be considered as just one piece of evidence. It is important to view these course evaluations for purposes of promotion considerations and future employment as longitudinal data points. For example, the faculty member may be a rigorous grader or attendance taker and students may react negatively to this. There may also be occasional conflicts between faculty and student expectations that can lead to harsh evaluations. On the other hand, there may very well be merit to constructive student feedback. Chairs and deans are in the best position to assess these situations.

Read More

Mergers and Acquisitions in Higher Education – What Provosts Should Know

According to a July 2023 report by McKinsey & Co, since 2020, the number of mergers and acquisitions in higher education has increased nearly threefold from 11 between 2001-2005 to 31 between 2016-2020. Since 2016 Higher Ed Dive has been tracking college closures and mergers.  Last updated on April 29, 2024, New York has had the most activity with 11 schools closing, merging or planning to do so. Massachusetts follow with 10 schools, 9 in Illinois and 8 in California.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research released in January 2024 reveals that there are still more than one million empty seats on college campuses as compared to five years ago, and there is still no growth among Freshman 20 years old and younger (this number is 5.3% below 2019 levels).  Further, undergraduate enrollment overall is down and remains 3.3% below pre-pandemic levels. 

Read More

2024 Survey of Provosts Reveals Interesting Insights on How Campuses are Dealing with AI, Diversity, Free Speech and Financial Challenges

Inside Higher Ed, together with Hanover Research, recently released its annual Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers, providing insight into the priorities of and challenges facing higher education institutions. With 331 provosts fully or partially completing surveys (a 13% response rate), the survey covered a wide range of topics including artificial intelligence, diversity, equity, and inclusion, campus speech, the future of academic programs, and more. While the comprehensive key findings and data tables can be found in the report, below is a highlight of several major areas.

Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence continues to be an evolving focus at many institutions. 92% of provosts responded that faculty and staff members asked for additional training related to the developments in generative AI. Seventy-eight percent (78%) have offered training in response to faculty concerns or questions about generative AI within the last 18 months and an additional 20% have planned training. For students, only 14% of provosts said that their institution has reviewed the curriculum to ensure that it will prepare students for AI in the workplace, though 73% plan to do so. The use and future of AI is far from settled. Although 47% of provosts are moderately concerned, 20% very concerned, and 6% extremely concerned about the risk generative AI poses to academic integrity, only 20% of institutions have published a policy or policies governing the use of AI, including in teaching and research. An additional 63% have a policy under development. However, in contrast to those concerns, 40% of provosts are moderately enthusiastic, 32% very enthusiastic, and 11% extremely enthusiastic for AI’s potential to boost their institution’s capabilities. Several institutions are using AI for virtual chat assistants and chatbots, research and data analysis, Learning Management Systems, predictive analytics to predict student performance and trends, and in other capacities. This is an area where we can expect rapid developments in the coming months.

Read More

Strategies, Structure, and Considerations for Implementing Artificial Intelligence into Education Delivery

The rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is creating both excitement and angst on where and how to begin safe, effective integration. While there are many ways AI can be applied, these suggestions are focused on educational delivery. For those who have begun applying and engaging student-facing AI, the vertical evolution requires structured and continuous development of institutional-level AI governance to maintain safe and ethical use. Governance structures should consider continuous growth of policies, guidelines and directives for use, approval processes, and staged training for faculty, staff, and students based on the speed of changes occurring in the market. 

Lacking or vague policies, structure, or training approaches may leave administrators, faculty, and students without the guidance needed to reap the benefits of AI use. Lacking governance structures or broad policies may unintentionally promote unsafe or unethical use of AI on the part of students, faculty, staff, and instructional designers who may not have the proper guidance to integrate. This can lead to compromised course design and program content, AI hallucinations, misinformation, and privacy breaches to proprietary university content, impacting the university and quality of education. 

Read More