Recently, I asked a question of Dean Dad about how we measure or evaluating advising, and he was kind enough to take on my question here. (Thanks, Dean Dad!)
Faculty members in my department do a fair bit of advising; it's part of the job description and so has to be part of our evaluations. Each faculty member who's being evaluated in a given semester puts together a file documenting their work in various ways, copies of research, evidence of committee work, copies of teaching materials, and so forth. But consistently, we all seem rather lost when it comes to documenting our advising. As a result, when our personnel committee puts together evaluation letters, we tend to have only the most perfunctory information about advising.
So I'm looking for a way to document my own work better, for ways to mentor my junior colleagues, and for ways to evaluate files. And, of course, I don't want to add a bunch of work for anyone. The documentation and such shouldn't be painful for anyone, so it's got to be as natural and easy as possible.
So far, the discussion at Dean Dad's has been really helpful and interesting.
Dean Dad notes some basic ways we might monitor, including the basics of seeing colleagues in the office. Dean Dad, being a Dean and all, is worried about worst case scenario's, while I'm interested in a best case scenario: how can a colleague who's a fantastic advisor show that so evaluators know?
Here in my department at NWU, our lead advisor assigns advisees to each faculty member, which balances the work amongst those who advise in various areas. (The English Ed advisors tend to have more advisees, and a more complex program to deal with.)
Mathsophie suggests that using questionaires and advising evaluations would be useful. I think that's a great suggestion. We already do exit interviews with our majors as part of our ongoing departmental assessment, and could perhaps ask them about advising in the process. Or perhaps we could ask them to fill out a short survey. (The exit interviews are sometimes done by non-tenured faculty members, so they aren't in a legal position to evaluate other non-tenured faculty members, but a survey could be seen only by the advisor and personnel committee members.) Thanks, Mathsophie!
BitchPhD adds that advisors could forward/copy emails to people responsible for evaluations. Since I have a feeling we all do a fair bit of email advising (I do), we could at least make some hard copies and put them in a file to document how we handle typical problems. That seems like a great idea, which wouldn't add that much to anyone's work (people are already putting together files, and a few extra pieces of paper isn't too much to print out, nor too much extra to read over).
She mentions the idea of asking advisees to write letters of support. I know I did that for several professors when I was a graduate student. I wonder how well that would work at the undergraduate level? Would students feel coerced? Should the personnell committee solicit letters from students suggested by the faculty member?
She also suggests that we could look at students' success at graduating and fullfilling requirements. That, too, sounds like a possibility; I wonder if it could somehow be combined with an exit survey? Because the student would be graduating, it seems less likely to feel coerced or problematic for the students, doesn't it?
Thanks for the great ideas, Bitch! (Gosh, that feels sort of weirdly rude to type! My Mom would wash my hands off with soap or something.)
So far, I'm getting some really good ideas! My thanks to Dean Dad for starting the discussion!