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Evaluation, Activity, and Service Support

Guidance on Faculty Annual Evaluations

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of faculty work, causing disruptions for faculty in achieving their teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service goals, it is important to approach faculty evaluation for 2020, and potentially beyond, with creativity, flexibility, and understanding. The following guidelines were proposed by the Provost’s Office in March 2020 to support this effort:

Faculty Annual Evaluation for 2020

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance about faculty evaluation for 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of faculty work, causing disruptions for faculty in achieving their teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service goals. We continue to look toward meeting OU’s strategic goals of enhancing the educational experience for our students, expanding the impact of our research, scholarship, and creative activity and engaging in service to our communities and the state.  Moreover, we are committed to recognizing and rewarding high standards of excellence. At the same time, we acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on faculty activity and productivity in ways we cannot yet foresee.  Many faculty members are facing additional challenges as a result of extra caregiving duties, personal health concerns, and other disruptions caused by “safer at home” policies. It is important, therefore, to approach faculty evaluation for 2020, and potentially beyond, with creativity, flexibility, and understanding. The following changes in policy and practice for 2020 reflect this aim.

Redistribution of Effort: For the 2020 evaluation year, faculty may request to adjust their distribution of effort to reflect the increased amount of time and effort required to move courses to an online learning environment and, in some cases, increased mentoring of students as a result of this changed learning environment. The redistribution of effort may also reflect changes in service loads as a result of altered circumstances (e.g., suspension of faculty searches or modifications of internal and external service obligations). Finally, with the temporary closure of labs, libraries, archives, performance venues, and other facilitates related to scholarly work, faculty may face disruptions to their research/scholarship/creative activity programs and activities. They may, therefore, wish to modify the percentage of their effort allocated to research during the 2020 evaluation year. Increasing the percentage of effort allocated to teaching does not require a faculty member to teach additional courses. Faculty who increase the portion of their distribution of effort allocated to teaching are strongly encouraged to take advantage of professional development opportunities related to online teaching, Canvas course site development, and materials available at

Faculty who wish to request a redistribution of effort may do so by decreasing up to 15 percent in any one category and adding up to 30 percent in any one category. For example, if a faculty member wishes to decrease their service category from 20 to 5 percent, and their research category from 40 to 25 percent, they may shift 15 percent from both categories to teaching; this would result in an increase of 30 percent in the teaching category. Faculty may not decrease the portion of distribution of effort allocated to any one category below 5 percent.

The process for making this request should involve a formal written request by the faculty member to Committee A, and needs approval from  Committee A and the Chair. The request and approval for redistribution of effort should be included in the Faculty Activity System (FAS) as part of the annual evaluation process.  A faculty member may request a redistribution of effort up to but no later than November, 2020.

Teaching Evaluation: The unprecedented situation as a result of COVID-19 and the rapid shift to online learning have significantly increased the teaching burden on most faculty. Despite the admirable and creative work of faculty members transitioning their courses to remote instruction in various modes, these circumstances may significantly affect their student evaluations of teaching (SET) scores. SETs should never be the sole basis for  evaluating teaching. In response to the current situation, SETs should not be used to assess individual faculty members’ teaching for the spring or summer of 2020. Rather faculty learning in response to the Coronavirus should be emphasized in evaluating teaching. This approach is especially important for non-regular faculty (renewable term and temporary faculty) who are evaluated primarily on the basis of teaching and often solely on the basis of SETs.

  • Chairs and Committee A may use SETs to provide the department with an overview of how students experienced the shift to distance learning if patterns are clear.
  • In place of SETs, faculty should be given opportunities to document how and what they learned while teaching during this period including the move to online teaching; any training undertaken related to Canvas, Zoom, and on-line instruction; resources they used to shift to online instruction; additional mentoring of and support for students facing uncertain and rapidly changing circumstances.
  • Faculty might also provide a “before” and “after” syllabus to demonstrate how they adjusted their courses as they moved online. Similarly, they may demonstrate efforts to build or expand their Canvas page.
  • Faculty may be encouraged to share materials, messages, etc. in which they communicated course changes, resources and other general measures of support to their students.

A number of other methods of assessment might be used including evidence of participation in workshops and other learning opportunities; inclusive teaching practices; and application of service-learning principles.  For more resources on these other methods please see the Teaching Engagement Program at

Research/Scholarship/Creative Activity: Increasing the impact of research, scholarship, and creative activity is an important strategic priority of the university. Faculty should be supported and encouraged to continue their engagement with their research programs, scholarship, and creative activity during this period. At the same time, we expect that productivity may be disrupted or affected, and we understand that some faculty may have disabilities, caregiving responsibilities and other circumstances further limiting their progress.  Therefore, it will be necessary to apply a different standard when assessing faculty research, scholarship, and creative activity in 2020. Recognizing the cascading effects of disruptions to faculty efforts, departments are also asked to exercise flexibility in evaluating faculty research in the coming years depending on the extent and type of disruption experienced by each  faculty member.

Faculty should be strongly encouraged to provide a narrative explaining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their research/scholarship/creative activity. This narrative might include discussion of delays in journal review and publication of submitted articles, lab closings, conference cancellations, etc. Faculty whose sabbatical leaves were disrupted should describe which goals and tasks were not realizable and why.

Departments should recalibrate their research/scholarship/creative expectations and criteria for this year. For example, if a department typically expects pre-tenured faculty to publish two papers per year, Committee A should make clear that this expectation does not apply to faculty evaluation in 2020.  Committees may assign greater value to conference papers or submissions underway than they would otherwise assign. Research/scholarship/creative activities accepted but subsequently canceled or postponed due to the pandemic (e.g. papers accepted to conferences that were cancelled, invited lectures that have been postponed) may count as if they had taken place.

Committee A should use caution when comparing and contrasting faculty members relative productivity. Health concerns, care responsibilities, and financial challenges may affect those productivity levels.

Service: Pandemic-related changes to internal and external service commitments will vary. Faculty may find that their service activities shift significantly, with some areas of service increasing while others decrease. Faculty should be strongly encouraged to provide a detailed narrative of the ways in which their service obligations have been altered as a result of the pandemic. In evaluating service, special weight should be given to contributions made to advance teaching and learning during this period, including faculty who provide assistance to colleagues making the transition to on-line learning, additional efforts to support community responses to the COVID-19 crisis, etc.