Demystifying Reappointment as Assistant Professor
University-level Policies and Programs
Review by the CANR RTP Committee
Review at the Dean’s Level
RTP discussions with chair and department-school review committee
Organizing RTP dossiers
Solicitation of external reviews (only for 2nd reappt and prof reviews)
Department-and school-level review of RTP candidates
Submission of RTP dossiers to College
2nd Fri in December
(To go into effect Fall 2011: Preliminary presentation of RTP candidates by CANR chairs and directors to Dean and Directors, Early Fall)
CANR RTP Committee reviews
Very early January
College-level Dean and Director reviews
Late Jan-early Feb
***Initial feedback to candidates re status from chairs-directors to candidates
Early -mid Feb
Revision of dossiers, if needed, with resubmission to College
Submission of dossiers, including Dean’s recommendation, to University Committee (Gray, Youatt, Curry)
Dean’s meeting with University Committee to review dossiers
***Preliminary decision from Univ review communicated to candidates by chairs-directors
Review of Univ-Ievel decisions by provost, then, president
*’*Final decision communicated to candidates by chairs-directors
late May-early June
Tenure actions taken by MSU Board of Directors
June board meeting
(RTP decisions go into effect July 1 of that year; declinations of first and second reappointments result in position terminations on August 15 of the following year)
(Reappointment, Tenure, and Promotion)
Larry Gut (Chair)/ENT/2016
CANR Promotion and Tenure Committee
1. To effectively evaluate a faculty member, the Committee must consider and evaluate three major categories for excellence:
a. an assessment of the faculty member’s performance of assigned duties;
b. an assessment of the person’s scholarly achievements; and
c, an assessment of the person’s service activities.
In conducting assessments, the Committee operates on the premise that faculty excellence is a matter to be judged, not measured.
2. Assigned duties for a faculty member can include research, teaching, extension/outreach and/or administration. Because the college is a collaborative effort, contributions to collaborative works are included in the assessment of performance of assigned duties. Furthermore, it is expected that a faculty member will demonstrate a commitment to standards of intellectual and professional integrity in all aspects of faculty responsibilities. The Committee acknowledges that some faculty positions will be more disciplinary oriented with few additional responsibilities, whereas others may have extensive assigned duties in teaching, extension/outreach, advising) or administration. However, some scholarly activities are expected of all tenure-track faculty members regardless of assigned duties. The Committee assesses performance according toassigned duties,not in relation to the budgetary appointment.
3. In order to evaluate a faculty member, the Committee – following Boyer (1990) and Weiser (1999) defines scholarly achievements as a creative work that is peer-reviewed and publicly disseminated.
As such there are six forms of scholarship:
a) discovery of knowledge;
b) multidisciplinary integration of knowledge;
c) development of new technologies, methods, materials or uses;
d) application of knowledge to problems;
e) dissemination of knowledge; and,
f) interpretation in the arts.
This definition can be applied to teaching, research, extension/outreach, service and administration duties. The Committee is interested not only in how faculty invest their time, the activities ill which they participate, and who they reach, but also in the short, medium and long term results and impacts of the faculty’s scholarly efforts.
4. Service activities are implicit in the appointment of all faculty members. A faculty member is expected to demonstrate excellence in service through a continuing commitment to academic professional and public service activities.
5. A faculty member is expected to demonstrate continual involvement in his or her intellectual and performance capabilities by improving his or her effectiveness in teaching, research, extension/outreach) service and/or administration. A faculty member also is expected to make contributions to the collegial environment of his or her academic unit.
Boyer, Ernest L. 1990 Scholarship Reconsidered – Priorities of the Professorate. Princeton: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Guidelines for Tenure and Promotion. Michigan State University) East Lansing, Mich. November 2, 1995.
Committee of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Faculty Evaluation Principles,
Scholarly Activity Definition, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, October 25,
Department of Agricultural Economics, Bylaws Annex II: Guidelines for Performance Evaluation of New Tenure System Faculty for Reappointment, Tenure and Promotion, (Approved December 6, 1993; Effective July 1, 1994.) Michigan State University. East Lansing, Mich.
Glassick, Charles E., Mary Taylor Hubers, and Gene L Maeroff. 1997. Scholarship Assessed-
Evaluation of the Professorate. San Francisco; Josey-Bass Publishers.
Weiser, Conrad J. 1999. Final Report to the Kellogg Foundation,October 1998. Oregon State University Workshop. Scholarship Unbound: Reframing Faculty Evaluation and Rewards. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
Promotion and Tenure Committee
Review the Principles for Faculty Evaluation that the CANR P&T Committee uses.
Quality not quantity. The Committee emphasizes quality, impact and that the tendency to list everything is not helpful and tends to obscure the more significant.
Top Journals in your field. A part of quality is to publish at least some work in the top journals in your subject area. The Committee looks for that evidence, especially at tenure decision time.
Reflective essay. This is your opportunity to show the quality of your thinking, your vision and the logic for your program, your strategy and implementation, including weaving in what you have achieved to date, your trajectory and where you plan to be in 10 years. The essay should emphasize the intellectual foundation of your work and plan in contrast to reporting or listing what you have done; the later should be well covered in the university forms and your vitae.
Early promotion. The Committee looks [or compelling reasons for this award, a truly an extraordinary record of scholarship. A significantly higher standard of achievement is expected than for promotion in the normal time period for the rank. Life is long and there is no great benefit to the individual and institution to rush its major stages, except for the very exceptional case.
Your area of scholarly excellence. Begin early to think about and develop your topic of excellence, what you will be known for, and articulate this expertise in your documents. For example, your goal is for anyone in your national or international field, if asked, to identify you as a world authority on the subject (modified of course for the culture of excellence in your discipline/assignment area).
Guidelines were prepared by Professor Doug Landis, CANR RTP Committee, Entomology.
These recommendations have been adopted by the CANR RTP Committee
and are used in portfolio reviews.
Reappointment to Assistant Professor
- In Research
- Obtains sufficient funding to initiate a program
- Increasingly, some funding should be sought from competitive national sources (USDA, NSF, NIH etc.)
- Attract students and/or post-docs
- Finishes publishing prior work (PhD, post-doc) and ideally has MSU work published or in press
- In Teaching
- Is recognized as a solid teacher by colleagues and students
- Shows true interest in teaching, evidence of innovation
- Obtains very good SIRS summary scores (1’s and 2’s) and/or is showing evidence of improvement
- In Outreach
- Obtains sufficient funding to initiate a program
- Is recognized by clientele and colleagues as interested and dedicated to outreach
- Shows initiative/innovation in outreach
- In Service
- Contributes to Departmental activities when asked
- Evidence of potential for contributions at national level e.g.
- Journal peer reviewer
- Membership in state/regional committees
During Fall Semester 2007 there was a robust discussion of scholarship – what it is and how it might be evaluated – in our College. This discussion was prompted by a call from the Dean’s Office: the need to sharpen our ability to fulfill mission-related obligations as we do a better of job of acknowledging and rewarding faculty for the work they do.
While faculty at MSU and CANR are expected to make contributions through research that move the frontiers of knowledge in their respective fields, they also undertake a variety of other work –undergraduate education, graduate education, and an array of Extension outreach and engagement responsibilities, on campus, around the state, across the nation, and all over the world – that often falls outside of the conventional way that we acknowledge and reward faculty for work in the research domain. It appears to some that research has become (or is becoming) the primary frame of reference for evaluating and rewarding faculty work. At issue, then, is how do we judge the quality of work undertaken across the mission (not just in research)? And, what does scholarship look like when it is expressed outside of research?
While these are important questions, it became apparent quickly that there are differences of opinion about what scholarship is and how it might be evaluated across the mission. For example, some saw virtually any work undertaken by faculty members – when that work is prepared and deployed thoughtfully (e.g., teaching an undergraduate class) – as scholarship. Others saw teaching classes as an important scholarly activity, but not as scholarship, which they saw as creating something new for a body of knowledge through peer-validation.
In addition, two primary concerns were expressed about the discussion of scholarship, generally. First, there were concerns that these discussions might lead to “one size fits all” metrics across CANR –applied to everyone, everywhere irrespective of potential differences in the work they do (e.g., teaching a study abroad course vis-a-vis involving students in an engagement experience overseas). In other words, while there is not likely to one answer to any core question (e.g., What is quality of Extension work), there probably are multiple answers to any question, with each answer fitting the nature of the work undertaken and/or the academic context in which it is being exercised. Second, concerns were expressed that emphasizing scholarship across the mission might diminish the value of work associated with teaching classes, doing Extension, and undertaking other non-research roles. If we were to emphasize work associated with scholarship in teaching, for instance, would that emphasis diminish the value of teaching classes? If so, then it might be better 110tto have these discussions at all.
Points of Agreement
Interestingly, while no consensus emerged about how to frame the discussion, including how to define basic terms, there was general agreement about a framework— advanced in first form in September that stayed intact as the semester-long discussion unfolded: 1) for evaluating the quality and impact of teaching, research, and Extension-outreach-engagement activities; and 2) for defining and evaluating the quality and impact of scholarship associated with teaching, research, and Extension-outreach-engagement. Both outcomes seemed to be worthy in intent and outcome. The dual focus is expressed in the text that follows.
In all activities associated with teaching, research and Extension-outreach-engagement, faculty members undertake work that is informed by an academically recognized boyd of knowledge, undertaken in a scholarly manner, and evaluated as having quality with impact.
Scholarship across the mission – irrespective of whether it is associated with teaching, research or Extension-outreach-engagement – involves creating something new and valuable (that is, makes a contribution) in a disciplinary, professional, multidisciplinary, or interdisciplinary field; having the work validated such as by peers; and making the work “public,” that is, is available in an academically legitimate location for use in teaching, research, or Extension-outreach-engagement work.
Undergirding this two-pronged framework-again without much disagreement, although with interpretive differences— were statements authored at various times by faculty committees at the University and CANR levels, respectively.
From MSU policy:
Through its faculty, MSU will create knowledge and find new and innovative ways to extend its applications, to serve Michigan, the nation, and the international community. The faculty must infuse cutting-edge scholarship into the full range of our teaching programs. At MSU, faculty are expected to be both active scholars and student-focused, demons/rating substantial scholarship and ability to promote learning through our on-campus and off-campus education and research programs. The essence of scholarship is the thoughtful discovery, transmission, and application of knowledge, including creative activities, that is based in the ideas and methods of recognized disciplines, professions, and interdisciplinary fields. What qualifies an activity as scholarship is that it be deeply informed by the most recent knowledge in the field, that the knowledge is skillfully interpreted and deployed, and that the activity is carried out with intelligent openness to new information, debate and criticism.
From CANR Promotion and Tenure Committee Policy:
In order to evaluate a faculty member, the Committee defines scholarly achievements as a creative work that is peer reviewed and publicly disseminated. As such there are six forms of scholarship: discovery of knowledge; multidisciplinary integration of knowledge,’ development a/flew technologies, methods, materials or uses; application of knowledge to problems; dissemination of knowledge; and interpretation in the arts. This definition can be applied to teaching, research, extension/outreach, service and administration duties. The Committee is interested not only in how faculty invest their time, the activities in which they participate, and who they reach, but also in the short, medium and long term results and impacts of the faculty ‘s scholarly efforts.
Purpose. This statement has been created by the Faculty within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) to clarify the definitions and expectations for scholarly activities, scholarship, and impact in the context of review for reappointment to Assistant Professor (after the third year probationary period), and for promotion to Associate Professor with tenure to enable new faculty to understand current expectations. Additionally, the purpose of this statement is to enable mid-career faculty to understand how expectations have changed over time for promotion to the rank of Professor, and for Senior faculty to use within mentoring activities. Further, the goal of this statement is to share with the University our types of work and what we do. The criteria the document contains identify how we can move our work from scholarly activity to scholarship. The definitions and examples within this statement can be applied to teaching, research, extension/outreach, service and administration. It is important to remember that the evaluation of scholarly activities, scholarship, and impact will be consistent with an individual’s programmatic thrust and CANR appointment.
This document is to provide a faculty voice to join the existing documents of: Promotion and Tenure: Philosophy and Protocol; Dean’s-Level Expectations; and Elements of a Strong RTP Package, which are used for portfolio review by the CANR RTP Committee. All of these documents can be found on the CANR web page at the following link: http://www.canr.msu.edu/canr/search_results?search=yes&query=Scholarship+Across+the+Mission.
Process. During the fall of 2011, a faculty representative from each unit was invited to attend the Faculty Scholarship Retreat, which was convened by the CANR Office for Faculty Development. Existing documents and scholarship across the mission statements from CANR units were reviewed and used as a basis for discussion of how to define scholarly activities, scholarship and impact as they apply to the expectations for reappointment, tenure and promotion within the context of the CANR and MSU missions. From those discussions, the statements within this document were created. The document has been vetted with Faculty within each unit by the respective College Advisory Council (CAC) representative, and has been approved by the CAC during December 2011. The document has also been vetted with the CANR Dean, Chairs and School Directors for their feedback. The statement is intended to lend clarity and transparency to the RTP process within CANR.
All professional activities of the CANR Faculty are expected to be scholarly. Scholarly activities do not necessarily result in works of scholarship; however, works of scholarship are always culminations of scholarly activities. Examples of scholarly activities include:
- Papers, such as abstracts or proceedings, that are not peer-reviewed
- Non-competitive funding such as contracts or repeatedly renewed grants where proposed research funding is highly probable.
- Presentations to professional or stakeholder meetings
- Non-competitive exhibits, performances, or built works
- Public press materials
- Scholarly Activities that have not been peer validated or adopted by others such as:
- Development of educational or pedagogical materials
- Audio-visual productions
- White papers
- Information databases
- Development of germplasm
- Student products
- Book reviews
- Student advising (undergraduate and graduate)
The essence of scholarship is the thoughtful discovery, transmission, and application of knowledge, including creative activities, that is based in the ideas and methods of disciplines, professions, and interdisciplinary fields. Scholarship is deeply informed by the most recent knowledge in the field, is skillfully interpreted and deployed, and is carried out with intelligent openness to new information, debate, and criticism. Scholarship meets three defining criteria: the activity creates something new, the work is peer-validated, and the work is publicly disseminated and available. Forms of scholarship include discovery of knowledge; multidisciplinary integration of knowledge; development of new technologies, methods, materials or uses; application of knowledge to problems; dissemination of knowledge; and interpretation in the arts. The outputs of scholarship are given a special place in evaluating Faculty performance at MSU and these objective creations are distinct from both the scholarly activities that undergird them and the impacts that flow from scholarship.
The objective outputs of scholarship are creative works that receive critical and appropriate validation (e.g., peer-review) and are publicly disseminated or accessible. Works of scholarship are viewed as the critical objective products of scholarly activities, and examples of such works include:
- Refereed publications
- Juried competitions
- Successfully funded competitive grants
- Peer reviewed/competitive exhibits, performances, and built works
- Patents, crop/cultivar releases, and licenses
- Books and peer validated/competitively selected book chapters
- Scholarly activities that become validated upon adoption by others:
- Pedagogy development
- White papers
- Workshop materials
- Information databases or software
- Audio-visual productions and new media
Impacts of scholarship and scholarly activities can be defined as their effects on practice, thought, and systems. Each faculty member contributes a body of knowledge to society, and assessment of impact is an attempt to integrate the quality of productivity over a career. Thus, individual flexibility needs to be allowed in the use of criteria, and weighted for career stage, to evaluate impact by examining changes over time, as well as the depth, breadth and quality of the impact. The ability of the impact to catalyze/instigate positive and sustainable change while aligning with the mission of CANR is valued.
Examples of impact include:
- Significant improvement in economic, social or environmental conditions of a community, region, agency, industry or other sector
- Invitations to present or write
- Generation of major gifts to endow a program
- Citations of work by others
- Adoption or use of work by others
- Awards, honors, and professional recognition
- Invitations to serve on review panels or to review papers or proposals
- Leadership in field/discipline and duration of such leadership
- Awards or competitive work by students
- Placement and career success of former students in the discipline/industry
- Students taught and student responses to classes
This document defines scholarship as a creative work that is peer-reviewed and publically disseminated. It is important that we define and apply basic, uniform principles of scholarship across the multiple forms of scholarship in CANR. It is critical to always remember that scholarship is not defined by what one does, but by the results and impacts on target audiences.
(with specific reference to MSU as a research, intensive, Land Grant institution, with international obligations)
There is clear and abundant evidence that the assistant professor is
confirming the potential seen in her or him at the time of initial appointment.
1. Establishing focus in one’s work-one’s “headline”-is critical. Focus represents a targeted area of scholarship for which one is known, a domain in which a scholarly reputation is built. There must be evidence that the declaration of focus is substantiated by high-quality, nationally (and/or internationally) competitive work in at least one dimension of the academic mission.
2. There is abundant evidence that all assignments are being undertaken with attention to scholarly quality and with work completed on a timely basis. Put another way, there are no apparent weaknesses in any of the primary areas of responsibility. The faculty member is perceived to be competent and has her or his “act together.”
3. There is widespread recognition of collegial engagement and contributions. The faculty member works collaboratively with peer and takes on and completes (with quality) assignments in teams. This includes project work, team-teaching, and governance and related assignments at the unit level and beyond.
4. There is evidence of contributions being made to students-undergraduate and/or graduate. These contributions include guest lecturing, teaching courses, serving as a club advisor, and mentoring-advising graduate students.
5. There is a strong conviction that the faculty member “is on the right track” with a high probability of experiencing a positive review at time of promotion to associate professor with tenure. Weaknesses in 1-4 are noted at the first reappointment…unless it is felt that the burden of evidence suggests against a reasonable chance of success at the time of the next review.
When submitting dossiers for reappointment there is documentation of evidence and alignment of commentary-with what the candidate says about himself/herself and what the unit administrator and MSU peers say about the candidate’s work. A point of comparison is the candidate’s performance relative to what would be expected at MSU‘s peer institutions.
This policy was issued by the Office a/the Provost on March 1, 2011 (to be effective Fall semester 2011); it reflects advice by the Faculty Council and the University Committee all Faculty Affairs
Academic Human Resources Policy
Each college shall implement a formal menta ring program by August 16,2011. As a part of the college program, colleges may also require that each department or school develop its own unit level· mentoring program. Effective mentoring is important to enhancing academic excellence and building a progressively stronger faculty composed of members who meet continuously higher standards and are competitive nationally and internationally. Mentoring programs will help the University achieve its goals for a high·quality faculty, diversity, inclusive excellence, and a respectful, positive work environment in which all members of the University community can thrive. While the responsibility for career development and success is ultimately that of the individual faculty member, opportunity, mentoring and the degree of environmental support that is available can affect success.
There are many forms of mentoring programs and no single model will meet the needs of all units or individuals. Each college (and/or unit) should develop a program that is most relevant to its needs based upon evidence based best practices. The practices and procedures in colleges may vary; however, all college mentoring programs must incorporate, at a minimum, the principles included below.
1 For faculty members with joint appointments, there should be one mentoring plan for the faculty member, coordinated among the units, with leadership from the faculty member’s lead unit.
2 Faculty members need different kinds of mentoring at different stages of their career. Initially, at minimum, colleges are expected to provide a mentoring program for pre·tenure, tenure system faculty, and build upon the program as capacity allows. This might include, for example, the addition of associate professors, HP faculty, or fixed term faculty for whom there is a long·term commitment.
3 Colleges, units and mentors should demonstrate sensitivity to potentially different challenges faced by diverse faculty induding women, persons of color, and other facets of identity.
4 Conflicts of interest should be minimized, confidentiality protected, and all faculty members provided an environment in which they can address concerns without fear of retribution.
5 A faculty member may choose not to have a mentor.
6 Mentoring policies should be clearly communicated to all faculty members, and efforts must be made to ensure that there is clarity of both expectations and roles for all parties.
CANR is committed to the professional development and successful advancement of its faculty members. Toward that end, steps need to be taken to ensure that faculty reviews are conducted annually at the unit level (to include written assessments given to faculty members) and that faculty members are informed about the measures and indicators that will be used to evaluate their performance.
In addition, the College believes that effective faculty mentoring is an important component that contributes to successful professional development. Effective mentoring involves activities undertaken at the university, college, and unit levels. University policy requires that all colleges have a formal and substantive mentoring program for pre-tenure, tenure-stream faculty.
CANR recognizes the central role that academic units play in enabling faculty development and it also respects the variation in disciplines-professions and missions across academic units in the College. With those points in mind, academic units will play the primary role in establishing formal and substantive mentoring for pre-tenure, tenure stream faculty members; and this mentoring will continue through the time of advancement to the rank of professor. Mentoring will also be available to fixed-term faculty members who hold the ranks of assistant professor and associate professor; and academic specialists who are appointed in the Continuing System, but who have not as yet earned Continuing Status.
The goals of department/school mentoring may vary by academic unit, but at a minimum should:
- Support faculty excellence across the mission by helping faculty establish and sustain a leading research program; effective teaching and engagement of undergraduate and graduate students; and an effective and high-impact extension, outreach, and engagement program.
- Encourage faculty involvement in professional activities, nationally and internationally.
- Help faculty strengthen their institutional and disciplinary-professional leadership skills.
The mentoring approach may vary among academic units, but must include the following elements:
- There will be a written document incorporated into the unit bylaws and actively implemented, which identifies and communicates policies, goals, and expectations for mentor(s) and those being mentored.
- There will be a description of the process to select mentors and a mechanism allowing for changes in assignment of mentors as appropriate for the junior faculty member’s needs, and an alternative provision for faculty members to choose not to have mentors. One or more senior faculty members (not the including the academic unit administrator) should be assigned as mentors. Selection of mentors is not limited to the academic home of the junior faculty member.
- For faculty members with joint appointments, there will be a single mentoring plan coordinated across units—with leadership provided by the lead unit.
- There will be a description of expected mentoring activities with elements addressing research, teaching, extension and outreach, engagement, and leadership development.
- There will be clarity regarding the roles of mentor(s) and the faculty member being mentored; expectations for confidentiality; the role of mentor(s), if any, in the annual evaluation and RPT process; and who (including the mentee) does/does not see written mentoring reports, if such reports are prepared.
- There will be a description of how mentoring activities will be reported and evaluated as a portion of an individual’s service to the unit.
- There will be support and leadership from the chair/director in integrating mentoring into departmental activities. Recognition of mentoring as a formal component of faculty service to the department and college should be incorporated into annual faculty evaluations for individuals who serve as mentors.
- There will be sensitivity in the academic units and mentors to potentially different challenges faced by diverse faculty.
Support for mentoring CANR faculty members will be provided under the leadership and direction of the CANR Director of Faculty Development (DFD), who will also be responsible for the development and regular review of the policy. The DFD will also have responsibility for ensuring that all faculty members are informed about faculty development programs in CANR and at MSU. This support will include:
- Provision of sources of information/link to available university resources concerning good mentoring practices and information about CANR unit policies;
- Organization of workshops and faculty development programs(either by the College or in conjunction with the university, through such units as the Office of Faculty and Organizational Development);
- Assistance for units (through the respective chair’s or director’s office) to create and maintain a central repository for information about mentoring policies; and
- Provision of information to prepare new faculty (e.g., resources, expectations) as part of annual college orientation;
The DFD will also serve as a confidential source available to all CANR faculty members —to serve as a resource (by identifying appropriate individuals with relevant expertise for advice/consultation for professional development) and/or by discussing sensitive issues with CANR faculty members at the faculty members’ invitation.
Review and Evaluation
The effectiveness of the college and unit mentoring programs will be assessed at an interval not to exceed 5 years.
The Reflective Essay is an integral part of the reappointment, tenure and promotion process at virtually all universities. The reason for its universal importance is that “a capacity for ret1ection and self-evaluation ... is a critical ingredient in a professor’s life” (McGovern, p. 96).
As such, the Reflective Essay holds a unique position in the candidate’s dossier of supporting evidence. The CV (curriculum vitae) and Form D—no matter what the length—will be read and discussed by reviewers. Consequently, the Reflective Essay should not be a summary of evidence presented in those documents. Instead, the Reflective Essay is “an opportunity to weave a tapestry of understanding of [your] scholarly pursuits “(Smith, p. ii).
Intent and Use
The Reflective Essay serves as the “key orienting and organizing element of the [dossier]” (Froh, et. al. p. 108) with the purpose of “providing a frame of reference 01’ context for the items submitted to the committee” (Diamond,
p. 24). Consequently, the Re!1ectivc Essay is the primary opportunity the candidate will have to convey the nature and meaning of her/his scholarly work and philosophy to those reviewers from his/her and other disciplines (Millis, p. 69).
Above all, the Reflective Essay should (a) convey the candidate’s vision of herself/himself as a maturing or mature scholar (including describing one’s scholarly niche); (b) communicate the contributions made during the reporting period in advancing toward that vision; (e) provide an indication (evidence) of the impact of the candidate’s scholarly efforts; and (d) show development-evolution of the candidate’s scholarship.
The objective of the Reflective Essay “is to convey as much depth and richness as possible by [employing] selective evidence of [scholarly) accomplishments” (Froh, et. al., p. 106). Above all, candidates should remember that the Ref1ective Essay is “a reflection of the care [the candidate) take(s) in communicating scholarship” (Smith, p. il).
The preparation of the Reflective Essay should begin early in one’s MSU—CANR career, and should be updated on a periodic basis throughout the reporting period (c. g., during the annual evaluation process). Approaching it this manner will enable the candidate to prepare a document that represents a more accurate and convincing expression of the evolution of one’s scholarly development. With all of this in mind, here are 8 guidelines for the development of a Rf1ective Essay:
- Because the Reflective Essay is just that—a personal reflection written in essay format—it is important that it be crafted as an intellectual piece, an academic contribution in its own right, rather than as a document that reports academic accomplishments.Most of all, the essay should “demonstrate a capacity to be reflective and self- critical; hence, capable of continued growth and change” as a scholar (Diamond, p. 24).
- The Reflective Essay should convey the candidate’s vision of himself/herself as a maturing or mature scholar. It is an opportunity to convey one’s scholarly philosophy and vision; to describe how Scholarly priorities were established; to share the logic of one’s program of scholarship (and its development); to make explicit the strategy (choice making) used over the years; and to be clear about one’s future trajectory.
- The Reflective Essay should be expressed in manner that is consistent with CANR‘s interpretation of scholarly activities and scholarship. Scholarly activities cut across the mission of teaching, research, and outreach / Extension / engagement. Activities are “things scholars do” (e.g., designing and offering an undergraduate class). While scholarship also applies to all mission dimensions, it is an outcome, not an activity. Scholarship involves creating something new; and it is designed to advance understanding by contributing something new to a body of knowledge. “Newness” is peer reviewed or validated; and products of scholarship are made available in publicly accessible forms and ill publicly available locations. The worth of both scholarly activities and scholarship is evaluated in multiple ways: in terms of intellectual quality (substance-content); quality of expression (how the work is constructed and presented, particularly in terms of its relevance to intended audiences); and its impact on and/or use by intended audiences.
- Because each candidate’s mix of assigned duties is unique, the essay should address all aspects of the candidate’s assigned duties—activities and scholarship—in a manner roughly proportionate to those duties-teaching, research, outreach / Extension/ engagement, and service to MSU and profession (Froh, et. al., p. 107). It is understood that scholarly activities and scholarship influence a wide range of audiences (e.g., disciplinary peers, scholars ill other disciplines, students, public officials, industry members, members of nongovernmental organizations). Consequently, just as each candidate’s assigned duties is unique, the impact of each candidate’s activities and scholarship is also likely to be unique (at the very least distinctive in nature and contribution).
- Because the hallmark of the scholarly life is integration and connections across the mission, the Reflective Essay should demonstrate the candidate’s integration of work across her/his assigned duties (e.g., how research influences teaching; how Extension influences research).
- The Reflective Essay “provides a vehicle for discussion of special circumstances that have affected your work to-date” (Diamond, p, 24), There are always critical times or points in an academic’s life, when an academic decides to move in one way or another. Sometimes these times or points are products of one’s own doing—a outcome of intent. At other times, they are either a result of opportunity (“being in the right place at the right time”) or unexpected circumstance (e.g., departure of a senior collaborator from MSU).
- The Ref1ective Essay also provides an opportunity for the candidate to explain “any contradictory or unclean materials in the [dossier]” (Seldin, p. 10). However, explanations should be reserved for unique events; and, when included in the essay, the description should not consume an undue portion of the essay.
- A useful means of developing a Reflective Essay may be to periodically consider a series of “reflective prompts” that will induce reflection about “why we teach; why we work as we do; why we choose certain priorities in... scholarship; why we publish in this or that field or particular topic; ... [thereby leading to] meaningful inquiry into what we do and how we do it” (Zubizarreta, p. 208, italics in original; for additional useful prompts, see McGovern, pp. 103-08).
Remember…, the Reflective Essay is the candidate’s opportunity to communicate the quality of thinking, vision and logic of the program, strategy and implementation—incorporating what has been achieved to date; the trajectory of the program; and the targets and milestones anticipated in the next 10 years, The Essay must emphasize the intellectual foundation of the work and plans for the future. The Essay must not be a reporting or listing of what has been done in the past; this is well covered in Form D and the CV.
Border, Laura L.B. “The Socratic Portfolio: A Guide for Future Faculty,” PSOnline, 35(4): 739-742.
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