|Title:||Faculty Performance and Pay in Tough Times|
|Subject:||Faculty Performance and Pay|
|Name:||Volume 4, Issue 1, Page 17-18, Winter 2012|
|Author:||Jim J. Adams|
Faculty, declining economies, revenues, global economic downturn, tutors, professors, lecturers, teachers, reduced pay, Drucker, Gumport, Columbia University, teaching and learning enterprise, etc
Higher education faculty worldwide are experiencing the pressure and anxiety that comes with declining economies and reduced revenues resulting from the global economic downturn, sometimes dubbed "the great recession" (Hudzik, 2010, p. 96). In some institutions, especially governmentally funded universities, tutors, professors, lecturers, teachers and administrators are experiencing lay-offs, furlough days, reduced pay, and increased workload. With resources scarce, and calls for quality assurance constantly increasing, it is urgently important for leaders in the academy to explore aggressively appropriate linkages between faculty compensation and perceived levels of performance...
Faculty Performance and Pay in Tough Times - Published Friday 3 of February: 2012-02-03
By Jim J. Adams, Professor of Leadership, Executive Director Center for Global Learning and Engagement, Azusa Pacific University, USA - www.apu.edu
Higher education faculty worldwide are experiencing the pressure and anxiety that comes with declining economies and reduced revenues resulting from the global economic downturn, sometimes dubbed "the great recession" (Hudzik, 2010, p. 96). In some institutions, especially governmentally funded universities, tutors, professors, lecturers, teachers and administrators are experiencing lay-offs, furlough days, reduced pay, and increased workload. With resources scarce, and calls for quality assurance constantly increasing, it is urgently important for leaders in the academy to explore aggressively appropriate linkages between faculty compensation and perceived levels of performance.
Verifiable linkages of pay-for-performance systems and measures of individual productivity ensure at least a modicum of equity and effectiveness (Konrad & Pfeffer, 1990). Traditionally, human performance evaluation occurs through two types of “feedback,” summative and evaluative (Webb & Norton, 1999). Formative evaluation is process-oriented and primarily prospective. The evaluation procedure itself is ongoing and developmental, while providing continual assessment of the individual’s productivity and performance (CETAL, 2011). A simple example of formative evaluation is a "widget-meter" continually measuring a factory worker’s output and calculating a piece-rate for her or him in real time. Summative evaluation provides retrospective evidence of performance through documentation (CETAL, 2011). Summative feedback is the most often used kind in the workplace, typically codified as an annual performance review, although it may exist in other formats. Institutional systems often develop to coincide with institutional priorities and values. As a result, varying constructs of formative and summative performance evaluation emerge. Tenure and extended contract systems are more typical in the higher education sector, and represent a form of summative evaluation. In this regard, the dynamics of institutional change toward better compensation systems, most often occur in the context of measurement, resistance threats, and other shaping forces of organizational progress.
Measurement and Feedback
Performance-based pay is only one of several feedback modes used by employees to understand their own productivity levels. Greller and Parsons (1995, p. 90) used a profiling experimental design to study the effectiveness of feedback scenarios. One of their findings was that contingent pay systems had no effect on “how job performance information is used,” and that “pay alone does not have substantial impact on individuals’ impressions of their performance”, affirming that merit pay as a feedback technique only works when the supervisor also provides other confirmation to the worker. Drucker (1990, p. 107) tackled the challenges of evaluating performance in education in a book chapter aptly entitled “What is the Bottom Line when there is no Bottom Line?”. Here, Drucker contended that evaluating performance includes discovering if resources go where results occur. His example of a “Mickey Mouse Chair” (p. 108) highlights this need. With Mickey Mouse Chair awardees based on a donation to the institution of higher education, despite faculty and administrators believing the chair may in reality, detract from their mission. Therefore, it is incumbent upon institutions to seek reasonable measures of professional productivity in terms of human performance models. One view is that accountability is at the core of evaluation, and therefore summative evaluation provides the needed ratings processes for tenure and salary decisions (Lenze & Warner, 1995). Indeed, rising costs and growing calls for accountability by government and public has led higher education researchers to reexamine quality assurance (including faculty productivity) in a number of respects (Slaughter, 1995; Wilger, 1997). The question remains, are higher education faculty members professionals, employees or both? Gumport (1997, p. 14) inquired:
"If faculty are employees, an interesting question is raised - for whom do they work? The administration, the state, their students, the public? In any case, this approach treats faculty as workers who need to be monitored rather than as professionals who are trusted to work according to internalized standards."
Moreover, if professors’ employment status were akin to that of factory workers, certainly piece-rate or other simplistic compensation incentives would serve. However, with thoughtful discourse and empirical evidence, Gumport’s “internalized standards” may eventually form ‘a quid pro quo’ for public cries of accountability. Scant literature exists describing instructional effectiveness in higher education, as compared to the primary and secondary school enterprise (Halliday & Soden, 1998). Fortunately, a growing number of peer-reviewed journals publish investigations and reviews of classroom effectiveness in higher education.
Arthur E. Levine (2000) president of Teachers College of Columbia University penned The Future of Colleges: 9 Inevitable Changes. Questioning the future meaning of two and four-year degrees, Levine proposed the hub of higher education is shifting from teaching to learning. Indeed this shift has already accelerated in the past few years. College teachers are sometimes criticized for “living in an ivory tower,” suggesting they are not well oriented to the realities of the world, and thus ineffective in the teaching and learning enterprise (Martin, 1995; Barnhardt, 2001).
The colloquialism “Ivory Tower” evokes a state of mind, where the academic lives a philosopher’s life, dreaming of and escaping to a place of refuge and safety to avoid the lowly realism of everyday life. The French symbolic poet Gérard de Nerval coined the term to denote a life kept apart from the crowd (Wagner, 1957). For Nerval, the ivory tower represented a place of mind, where one could hide away and undertake the work of writing, while avoiding entanglements with the everyday politics of French society and government. Nerval’s escapism eventually ended in dementia and eventual suicide. One day the gendarmes found him wandering the Palais-Royal leading a lobster on a leash. He told the gendarmes that he preferred the lobster to a dog “because it does not bark and knows the secrets of the sea” (p. 46). Sent to an asylum, his keepers found him dead, hung on a lamppost, and as the story goes, used his mother’s apron strings to commit the deed.
In the academy today, Nerval’s ivory tower has come to signify the reluctance of some scholars to engage with the needed and collaborative processes of change and discovery (Martin, 1995). In the ivory tower, one is content to sit and contemplate, to write, and to remain disengaged from the exercise of cultural change. To do otherwise threatens the occupant’s sense of security and quiescence. Like Nerval’s abrupt end, those teaching in the academy, risk hanging themselves, should they avoid adapting their classroom approaches to the realities of social and cultural change occurring in the present world. Likewise, higher education agencies, administrators, unions, and faculty governance bodies must revisit the systems and methods for measuring productivity, lest they abdicate the responsibility to outside stakeholders.
Nerval’s idyllic ivory tower rarely, if ever, exists in the real world. If for no other reason, continuing calls for increasing accountability worldwide, will repudiate its possibility in the near term. At the same time, shared governance, collaborative teams, and collective decision-making will continue as a viable force in setting pay and performance in the future. Thus, various approaches to change in the academy should not only include careful examination of the literature, but also advocating for new knowledge and increased research from an interactive and collaborative viewpoint.
The human agency of change is crucial in bringing transforming change to and through the organizational structures existent in higher education. Havelock’s (1973) seminal work on human agents as catalysts, built a foundation for further investigation of the roles and relationships of leaders, followers, and groups in the pay-for-performance enterprise. Janis (1983) demonstrated the need to identify and avoid resistance to change, often disguised as a supposedly supportive and cohesive “groupthink.”
Looking at roles and responsibilities during times of restructuring or retrenchment is vitally important to understanding how groups work in the progression of institutional growth. Frightening as it may be, sudden budget reallocation or retrenchment is most often a mandate, either internal or external. The academy must understand it comprehensively to employ as a tool, lest it become a weapon against development. At the same time, institutions of higher education must factor crucial issues of responsiveness, cultural accommodation, ethical considerations, and personal rights when making institution or systems-wide decisions. Above all, higher or tertiary education seeks to serve through education. Compromising this highly focused mission, through political pressures or lack of attention to the needs and centrality of students, faculty, staff, and other constituents, inevitably leads to failure in equitable systems for compensation.
Likewise, institutional change in higher education works most efficiently as a process, and not a simplistic set of unilateral decision points. It is neither a snapshot in time, nor an isolated pronouncement, that instigates true transformation and progress. Although illusory teams or groups may have a limited impact, the best and most effective are "the high-performance teams" (Froman, 2010, p. 65) that work collaboratively, while recognizing and encouraging the strengths of diversity that empower people and organizations to move forward. Shared planning is the key to unlock possibilities, for structuring institutional growth and development in light of faculty compensation. Along with its cousins, human factors and restructuring, an integrative view of the functions and tasks involved will create new and better frames for promoting realistic, effective, and lasting change in institutions of higher learning worldwide.References: Barnhardt, R. (2001). The domestication of the Ivory Tower: Institutional adaptation of cultural distance. Fairbanks: AK: University of Alaska. CETAL - Center for Effective Teaching and Learning (2011). Formative and summative evaluation. [Retrieved 01/02/11 from http://www.utep.edu/cetal/portfoli/form-sum.htm.]. University of Texas. Drucker, P. (1990). Managing the non-profit organization: Principles and practices. New York: Harper Collins. Froman, L. (2010). Positive psychology in the workplace. Journal of Adult Development, 17(2), 59-69. Greller, M. & Parsons, C. (1995). Contingent pay systems and job performance feedback. Group and Organization Management, 20(1): 90-109. Gumport, P. (1997). Public universities as academic workplaces. [Report #NCPI-1-01 from the National Center for Postsecondary Improvement.]. Stanford, CA: Stanford University. Halliday, J. & Soden, R. (1998). Facilitating changes in lecturers understanding of learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 3(1), 21-29. Havelock, R. (1973). The change agent's guide to innovation in education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology. Hudzik, J. (2010). The economy, higher education, and campus internationalization. International Educator, (19), 3, 96-102. Janis, I. (1983). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascoes. (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Konrad, A. & Pfeffer, J. (1990). Do you get what you deserve? Factors affecting the relationship between productivity and pay. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(2): 258-286. Lenze, L. & Warner, M. (1995). Summative evaluation and formative feedback. NEA Update, 1(4): 1-4. Levine, A. (2000). The Future of Colleges: 9 Inevitable Changes. The Chronicle of Higher Education: B10. October 27, 2000. Martin, J. (1995). Should alumni remain silent? Academic Questions, 8: 70. Slaughter, S. (1995). Criteria for restructuring postsecondary education. Journal for Higher Education Management, 10(2): 31-44. Wagner, G. (1957). Introduction to selected writings of Gérard de Nerval. Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, 67. (pp. 5-46). New York: Grove Press. Webb, L. & Norton, S. (1999). Human resources administration: Personnel issues and needs in education. (3rd ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Wilger, A. (1997). Quality assurance in higher education: A literature review. [Report #NCPI-6-03 from the National Center for Postsecondary Improvement.]. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.
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Volume 4, Issue 1, Winter 2012, AngloHigher® The Magazine of Global English Speaking Higher Education™, ISSN 2041-8469 (Online)
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