JITE v37n1 - Post-Tenure Review in Industrial and Technology Education

Volume 37, Number 1
Fall 1999

Post-Tenure Review in Industrial and Technology Education

Rodney L. Custer
Illinois State University
Terry Foster
Illinois State University
Elizabeth Martin
System Sensor - Division of Pittway Corporation

Post-tenure review is one of the salient issues in higher education today. Legislators, boards of trustees and academic administrators have called for more frequent and comprehensive assessments of faculty performance. Often, these calls are accompanied by unflattering characterizations of the quality of faculty (e.g., "deadwood"), our workload (e.g., "seven hours a week"), our priorities (e.g., "too little teaching and too much questionable research") and our perceived unwillingness to monitor our own academic performance and accomplishments. ( Gorman, 1997, p. 2 )

The issue of post-tenure review of faculty is a contentious one. Albert Simone, president of the Rochester Institute of Technology, demonstrates the ambiguity and difficulties associated with post-tenure review when he observed that "It's not a re-tenuring process, and it's not a de-tenuring process. It's a faculty evaluation and development process" ( Magner, 1995, p. A13 ). Some argue that, conducted properly, post-tenure review of faculty will serve to strengthen the tenure system. R. Eugene Rice, who directs the Forum on Faculty Roles and Rewards at the American Association for Higher Education, notes that post-tenure review of faculty is simply good policy. "It's policing our own shop." He goes on to observe that "if we go to the extreme to defend incompetence, it's going to undermine the viability of tenure over the long haul" ( Magner, 1995, p. A13 ). The American Association of University Professors has staked a more negative view of the process, stating that "periodic formal institutional evaluation of each post-probabtionary faculty member would bring scant benefit, would incur unacceptable costs, not only in money and time but also in dampening of creativity and collegial relationships, and would threaten academic freedom" ( Reisman, 1986, p. 75 ).

Post-tenure review of faculty is the developmental process of ensuring departmental viability and development in the areas of teaching and research. Post-tenure review is designed to ensure that classroom instruction and overall faculty performance meets the needs of students and addresses broader institutional and professional goals. Post-tenure review is also designed to encourage research-producing information valued and accepted by colleagues in the field. In order for departments to achieve a high level of effectiveness, all faculty members must be effective and strive to remain competent in their fields of study. Post-tenure review, conducted as a process of consistent and objective evaluation, provides faculty with positive direction and acknowledgments.

Faculty accountability to students, legislators, and the general public is an area of growing concern. The theme of accountability is concurrently being stressed in other spheres of society, such as industry, social welfare, and most recently, elementary and high school education. Public opinion has been mobilized to support initiatives designed to ensure that all individuals and organizations are held accountable for their performance ( Reisman, 1986 ).

Effective implementation of post-tenure review involves striking and maintaining a delicate balance of motivating, supporting, acknowledging, facilitating, and holding faculty accountable. Balance must be achieved between the administrators' concern over faculty performance and the faculty's fears that reviews will be conducted in an unfair and capricious manner. Institutions have an obligation to students, trustees, the general public, and not least, to the faculty who are performing competently ( Johnson, 1993 ). Personal, departmental, and institutional accountability depends on a willingness to understand and accept the judgments made by others ( Perley, 1995 ).

This article reports the findings of a research study that was conducted to examine the complex issues associated with the post-tenure professional development of industrial and technology education faculty.

Review of the Literature

Purpose of Post-tenure Review

For the purpose of this study, post-tenure faculty evaluation is defined as formal, periodic review of tenured faculty for the primary purpose of ensuring continued faculty vitality and development. The purpose of post-tenure review is to provide an effective vehicle for ensuring that faculty will maintain and upgrade their level of performance ( Johnson, 1993 ). Professional growth and development means more than focusing on interpersonal skills, teaching style, or contributions to department activities. It also means disciplined planning for the expansion of professional expertise in the context of institutional mission and need ( Bennett & Chater, 1983 ). Much of the recent research on post-tenure review reports that the motivation for adopting the process arises from the need for increased accountability and professional development ( Johnson, 1993 ; Wesson & Johnson, 1991 ).

At its best, tenure is a system that creates an environment encouraging individuals to explore alternative and controversial perspectives and positions. It provides a mechanism for allowing faculty to function independently and to exercise professional judgments as they pursue creative scholarships and teaching ( Perley, 1995 ). Nonetheless, individual faculty members may have become unproductive for a variety of reasons, such as personal problems, health, changing departmental priorities, departmental and institutional politics, etc. Some faculty members are left behind when their discipline or specialty takes a turn that they are unprepared to follow, while others may become discouraged by the demands of grantsmanship or academic politics, which can be prerequisites to success for even the talented researcher or creative scholar ( Wesson & Johnson, 1991 ).

Among the perceived benefits of post-tenure review are that public suspicions and apprehensions will be allayed, tenured faculty members will be assisted in their professional improvement and development, and institutional management of resources will be improved ( Bennett & Chater, 1983 ). The primary purposes supporting post-tenure evaluations identified in the literature are to (a) supply documentation for removal of incompetence, (b) allocate resources to promote faculty development and improved instruction, (c) provide input for personnel decisions in areas of merit raises and promotions, and (d) facilitate departmental and faculty development ( Goodman, 1994 ; Licata, 1986 ). The process provides numerous and rich opportunities for regular evaluation of the quality of present activities and appropriate future directions ( Bennett & Chater, 1983 ).

Problems with Post-tenure Review

The expense in time, energy, and collegiality is perceived by many administrators and faculty to be the primary problem associated with post-tenure review. They question whether these costs yield commensurate benefits in individual professional growth and departmental development. For the most part, existing literature indicates that the return on investment from post-tenure reviews depends upon the level of administrative commitment, the quality of a faculty recognition and reward structure, and an articulation of the changes in the priorities established by disciplinary and professional associations ( Diamond, 1994 ; Wesson & Johnson, 1991 ). Critics cite problems with issues of collegiality, departmental autonomy in setting performance standards, due process protections against abuse of the review process, funding for professional development plans, and the nature and mechanism of any sanctions imposed ( Wesson & Johnson, 1991 ).

One serious shortcoming of many formative post-tenure review systems is failure to adequately reward faculty who are performing well ( Licata & Andrews, 1992 ). Also, in many applied disciplines, some types of scholarly and professional activities have not been acknowledged within the traditional faculty reward system. Examples of such unacknowledged activities include software design, laboratory and course development, and technical research in areas such as alternative energy development, tool design, etc. There are significant differences in faculty activities among the disciplines as well as in the values associated with such activities ( Diamond, 1994 ). Responsible post-tenure evaluations must include an ability to reward faculty across a diverse, complex, and dynamic environment.

The close association between merit pay and post-tenure review is another key issue. In some institutions, faculty are evaluated annually by their department head for merit raises. In other institutions, faculty members are heavily involved in these decisions. They are required to judge each other's accomplishments and rate each other accordingly, which forces evaluation of tenured faculty by peers ( Licata, 1986 ). The problem with this practice is that peer evaluation tends not to represent an objective reflection of actual faculty performance, because faculty members tend to band together to "protect their own." As one professor explained, faculty do not want to expose the weaknesses of their department to the university administration ( Johnson, 1993 ).

Typical Processes and Procedures used to Conduct Post-tenure Review

Elements that are typically included in post-tenure reviews include (a) a statement of purpose, (b) a declaration of whether the purpose is formative or summative, (c) input from multiple sources, (d) a definition of the areas of assessment, (e) an identification of criteria, and (f) a description of the process. ( Licata, 1986 ). The review process should allow for multiple and flexible evaluation schemes. It must respond to the transitional stages in a faculty member's life, while at the same time recognizing institutional priorities ( Licata, 1986 ). Post-tenure review should also incorporate elements of self-evaluation and reflection ( Wesson & Johnson, 1991 ). The process may be extended to involve a combination of peer evaluation, external review, student evaluations, and administrative input. The chairperson or a departmental personnel committee (or some combination of the two) typically initiates and conducts the evaluation.

Effectiveness of Post-tenure Review

When faculty are involved in the development and initiation of post-tenure review, there tends to be an increased sense of ownership. This, in turn, leads faculty to view post-tenure review in a more positive light and encourages them to invest more effort into making it work effectively ( Johnson, 1993 ). In some departments, the process serves to strengthen the department by bringing colleagues closer together and making them more aware of each other's problems and strengths ( Johnson, 1993 ). This is particularly true in situations where individual faculty members are allowed to select the members of the review committee. Ideally, high levels of faculty involvement in the process facilitates collegiality and maintains the focus on faculty development, rather than on high-stakes, career-impacting decisions ( Johnson, 1993 ).

Careful planning and implementation are important if faculty are to perceive post-tenure review as more than a formality. Feedback should be honest and fair, and be communicated to the faculty member within a context designed to promote and motivate positive growth and change. In addition, policies should designate follow-up procedures for those identified as poor performers. Research reveals that in a system where minimal follow-up occurs, faculty are less inclined to invest effort into the process ( Johnson, 1993 ).

Post-tenure review offers the potential for a renewed emphasis on faculty excellence, but it cannot deliver on this promise unless institutions invest in making the process work well. A study conducted by Licata and Andrews ( 1992 ) found that institutional leaders must reexamine the purposes of their evaluation plans and scrutinize the effectiveness of the outcomes, both in terms of what results faculty members want and what campuses can afford. Evaluation of the evaluation process seems to be the order of the day. If post-tenure review is worth doing at all, the process itself is worth evaluating.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives and practices of industrial technology and technology education departments toward post-tenure review of faculty. More specifically, this research was designed to:

  1. Describe existing post-tenure review practices, including factors such as criteria, primary responsibility, motives, types of documentation, problems encountered, and suggestions for improvement of the process;
  2. compare current post-tenure review practices with perceptions of how the process should be conducted;
  3. compare the perceptions of department chairpersons with the perceptions of faculty regarding post-tenure review; and
  4. compare the perceptions of administrators and faculty working in regional universities with the perceptions of those working in land grant universities regarding post-tenure review.

Population and Sample

The population was comprised of current and former administrators of industrial technology and technology education programs in the United States. The sample consisted of all members of the Mississippi Valley Technology Education Conference and chairs of non-Mississippi Valley institutions. A census sample of current Mississippi Valley members (n=78) was obtained from the organization's mailing list. The sample of non-Mississippi Valley participants was obtained from an International Technology Education Association database (n=97), which was comprised of department chairpersons or technology education program leaders. The combined databases were used to ensure nationwide representation.


A survey instrument was developed by the researchers to obtain information on each of the major factors that were identified in the literature. After an initial draft was reviewed by three content experts (tenure-track faculty from the College of Applied Science and Technology at Illinois State University who had been involved in the university's tenure and promotion policy review process), the instrument received extensive revision. It was then independently reviewed by a team of six tenured industrial technology and technology education faculty members from the Department of Industrial Technology at Illinois State University. Additional revisions were incorporated following this second-round review process.

The instrument, organized into two major sections, consisted of a "demographics" section and a "practices and opinions" section. The demographics section requested information about rank, position description, size of department (including number of tenure-track lines and number of tenured faculty), age, and type of institution.

The practices and opinions section was comprised of three different types of items, all designed to elicit perceptions, current practices, and opinions related to the post-tenure review process. Twelve items, generally designed to capture factual and descriptive information, consisted of a stem accompanied by a list of check-off items. Questions designed to probe respondents' perceptions and opinions of the post-tenure review process were presented in a five-point Likert scale format. Each question was comprised of a list of items to be rated. For example, Item 20 of the survey focused on perceived reasons for conducting post-tenure reviews. This item provided five possible responses and also provided an option to add an additional item ( see Figure 1 ).

Figure 1. Sample item # 20
20. How important should each of the following reasons for conducting post-tenure review be?
Not Important Somewhat Important Important Very Important Extremely Important
To make promotional decisions
To make dismissal decisions
To make merit pay decisions
To motivate faculty development
To demonstrate accountability to the public
Other (please specify)

The practices and opinions section also included one open-ended item asking respondents to suggest the "single most significant improvement" that could be made to enhance the post-tenure review process at their institution.


A copy of the survey instrument and a cover letter were mailed to each member of the sample (n=175), along with a "no postage required" return envelope. Participants were requested to return their surveys within a three-week period. Follow-up surveys were sent to all nonrespondents, requesting that they complete and mail the survey within a two-week period. These procedures yielded 79 useable returns (45.1%) for the total sample. The data were analyzed on a Windows-based version of SAS. Frequencies and mean values were computed for each of the items on the survey. Additionally, the type of institution and type of position served as independent variables in an analysis of each of the items on the survey.


The vast majority of the individuals surveyed (n=67, 84.8%) indicated that they currently have a formal system for conducting post-tenure review in their department. When asked to provide an overall estimate of total faculty quality, over 70% of the respondents estimated that 10% or less of the tenured faculty members in their departments could be classified as poor performers. While this is generally positive, nearly 30% of the respondents indicated that over 10% of their tenured faculty were performing below expected standards ( see Table 1 ). While the percentages are certainly not excessive, it is evident that there is concern that meaningful numbers of tenured faculty in industrial technology and technology education departments may be in need of significant improvement in professional growth and development.

Table 1
Estimates of Poorly Performing Tenured Faculty

Response N Percentage

10% or Less 56 70.9%
10 - 20% 10 12.7%
Over 20% 13 16.4%

The respondents were then asked to rate a list of criteria to be used to identify poorly performing tenured faculty. As can be seen in Table 2 , the criteria that were rated most highly had to do with the quality of on-campus work, especially performance in the classroom. This result is somewhat surprising, given the growing emphasis on research and scholarly publication in recent years. When the full range of faculty activities is considered, it appears that those that sort out as most important (at least when it comes to making judgments as to the overall performance of tenured faculty) have to do with the perceived level of engagement and observable quality of work with the students and other faculty within a department. As will be seen later in the study, these findings are consistent with the respondents' ratings of criteria that should be used to rate faculty during the post-tenure review process.

Table 2
Criteria Used to Identify Poorly Performing Tenured Faculty

Criteria Frequency % of Sample

Teaching 74 93.7%
University/Department Service Address 57 72.2%
Conference and Professional Association Involvement 43 54.4%
Refereed Publications 41 51.9%
Student Advisement 36 45.6%
Grant Writing 22 27.8%
Other Publications 20 25.3%
Service to National-level Professional Organizations 20 25.3%

The respondents were then asked to respond to a question designed to obtain an overall sense of the perceived effectiveness of the post-tenure review process at their institutions. Nearly one half of the sample indicated that, in their view, the process is marginally effective at best, while 25% (n=19) contend that it is not effective at all. While subsequent data analysis will provide additional detail related to these perceptions, it is nevertheless useful to obtain a general, more holistic, sense of the profession's view of the post-tenure review process. Simply put, that view is less than enthusiastic.

Processes Used

The discussion will now turn to an analysis of the processes used to conduct post-tenure reviews across the industrial technology and technology education profession. The issues addressed will include (a) the frequency with which reviews should be conducted; (b) who is, and should be, reviewed; and (c) who is, and should be, primarily responsible for conducting the review process. Respondents were asked to indicate the frequency with which the performance of tenured faculty should be reviewed ( see Table 3 ). One of the most striking observations that can be made from these data is that the numbers are similar across the three professorial ranks for both the "current practice" and "should be practice" categories. It is interesting to note that the emphasis on annual reviews is consistent across the ranks as well. A minor pattern that can be observed is some preference for 3rd and 5th year reviews. From a general perspective, the industrial technology and technology education profession apparently believes that all tenured faculty members should be reviewed.

Table 3
Frequency of Post-tenure Review Process Across Academic Ranks

Frequency Assistant Professor Associate Professor Full Professor
Should be
Should be
Should be

Every Year 34 34 41 30 32 30
Every 2nd Year 1 4 1 2 1 2
Every 3rd Year 7 8 7 11 7 8
Every 4th Year 3 3 3 3 4 3
Every 5th Year 8 12 9 13 9 14
Every 6th Year 2 1 2 0 2 0

These findings appear to contradict the previous finding, which indicated that industrial technology and technology education faculty generally take a rather negative view of the value of post-tenure review. One logical interpretation of this disparity could be that while the respondents believe in the value of post-tenure review, they do not think it is being done very well. Another apparent contradiction (to be discussed later) has to do with what is perceived to be one of the most serious problems with the post-tenure review process: the cost in resources (particularly time) required to conduct the process. In spite of the high toll, this study's respondents persisted in the view that tenured faculty should be reviewed annually.

A second dimension of the analysis of processes used to conduct post-tenure review involved questions that focused on the issue of implementation (i.e., who should be responsible for conducting the process). In practice, department chairpersons (n=42) are clearly providing the leadership for most of the programs, with unit or departmental personnel committees (n=26) serving a significant, but smaller number of programs. When the emphasis shifts from "what is" to perceptions of "what should be," the gap narrows, with the responses indicating an increased preference for leadership from personnel committees. It is informative to note that, while the frequency count for deans (n=14) is much less than department chairpersons and personnel committees, the role of deans is still stronger than might have been anticipated ( see Table 4 ).

Table 4
Entity Primarily Responsible for Post-tenure Review

Frequency Current
Should be

Department Chair 42 43
Dean 14 13
Unit/Departmental Personnel Committee 26 34
Combination of Dept. Chair & Personnel Committee 10 4

Note. Some individuals checked two categories.

Rationale for Post-tenure Review

The discussion will now shift from pragmatic issues to examination of a more philosophical concern: the rationale for engaging in the post-tenure review process. The primary reasons for conducting post-tenure reviews, as indicated by the review of the literature, have been making promotion and dismissal decisions, gathering information on which to base merit pay decisions, demonstrating accountability, and fostering faculty development. Respondents were asked to share their perceptions of the importance of these reasons in actual practice and ideal (should be) practice.

The mean ratings for the reasons in both practice categories were in the "important" to "very important" range (between 3 and 5 on a 5-point scale). The top three perceived reasons in actual practice were to make promotion decisions, to make dismissal decisions, and to make merit pay decisions. It is instructive to note that these are "high stakes" factors, which have a direct and significant impact on a faculty member's career and financial affairs. Taken collectively, these three items present a view that the post-tenure review process that is driven by extrinsic, rather than intrinsic, motivational factors. When asked to shift into a "should be" practice frame of reference, the motivation of faculty development received slightly stronger emphasis. At the same time, the emphasis on making dismissal decisions also increased ( see Table 5 ).

The data related to purpose were also analyzed by groups using two different independent variables. These were comparisons between (a) department chairpersons and faculty and (b) land grant and regional universities. These comparisons were possible because the number of respondents were relatively well represented for both variables (37 department chairpersons and 31 faculty; 23 individuals from land grant universities and 47 individuals from regional universities). It is, however, important to remember that actual differences between chairpersons and faculty are likely less than for the general population of academics because of the nature of this study's sampling procedure (i.e., many of the faculty in the sample have served in some administrative capacity). Statistical analysis was conducted using analysis of variance.

When departmental role was used as the independent variable, the general pattern observed with the total data set remained the same, with one exception. As might have been anticipated, administrators were significantly more concerned with using post-tenure review as a mechanism for demonstrating accountability, than were faculty. In the aggregate, the pattern of emphasis on external reward structures was very similar between the two groups.

When the data were analyzed by institutional type, additional significant differences emerged. The two groups diverged on those factors having the most direct impact on position retention (i.e., promotion/dismissal) for both actual and ideal practice. Respondents from regional universities felt that the post-tenure process is (and should be) used for these kinds of decisions at a level significantly higher than the respondents from land grant universities. Additional research would be necessary in order to explain these differences; however, these results could signal a need or preference in the regional universities to operate within formal structures when making critical career decisions. By contrast, certain factors inherent in research universities could render formal review procedures less important. These factors could include attrition due to opportunities outside of research universities, program reductions, and a preference among many in our field for activities other than research. The remaining significant difference was in the perceptions of the importance of demonstrating accountability. It could be surmised that this is due to the lack of understanding by the general public of the research mission of research universities; hence the need to demonstrate additional accountability.

Table 5
Reasons For Using the Post-tenure Review Process
Reasons Actual
Should Be M Actual
Should Be M Actual
Should Be
Should Be
Should Be
Land Grant
Should Be
Land Grant
To make promotion decisions 1 3.84 2 3.88 4.00 3.66 3.91 3.79 4.10* 3.35* 4.09* 3.35*
To make dismissal decisions 2 3.78 1 4.04 3.87 3.69 4.06 3.86 4.33* 3.40* 4.33* 3.40*
To make merit pay decisions 3 3.60 4 3.65 3.65 3.86 3.63 3.77 3.54 3.58 3.63 3.60
To motivate faculty 4 3.32 3 3.71 3.40 3.08 3.63 3.62 3.45 3.16 3.50 3.35
To demonstrate accountability 5 3.23 5 3.43 3.53 3.31 3.81* 3.03* 3.43 3.32 4.00 5.00
5 = Extremely Important, 4 = Very Important, 3 = Important, 2 = Somewhat Important, 1 = Not Important *Sig < .05

Criteria Employed

One of the key factors that must be examined when exploring issues related to the post-tenure review process has to do with the criteria employed in the reviews. Through the review of the literature, nine factors were identified that generally encompass the area of scholarship, teaching, and professional service. When the data were analyzed across the entire sample, teaching quality emerged as an extremely important criteria in perceptions of actual practice and even higher for ideal practice. With the exception of refereed publications, the other highly rated items concentrated on campus-based and student-oriented activities. When questioned about ideal practice, the refereed publications category dropped to the fourth position. These results are consistent with current practice in higher education and tend to reflect the increasing emphasis on research that is occurring in regional universities. The relative de-emphasis on research in the "should be" practice category suggests some discomfort with this change within the profession.

These data were also analyzed using the same two independent variables as in the previous question. Significant differences emerged within several categories when perceptions of faculty and department chairpersons were analyzed. Chairpersons perceived that teaching quality and curriculum development criteria are actually being applied at a higher level of emphasis than did faculty. This could be interpreted as faculty feeling that performance in these areas should be more highly valued than it actually is (i.e., as suggested in the "should be" columns). These differences in perception appear to represent a dynamic where even though administrators perceive teaching and curriculum development as valuable, faculty members perceive these criteria as undervalued. With one exception, these differences in administrative and faculty perceptions of the criteria disappear when the focus shifts to ideal practice. Somewhat predictably, administrators indicated that involvement with campus committees should be a more important post-tenure review criterion than did faculty ( see Table 6 ).

Another set of significant differences emerged when the same data were compared by institutional type. The findings appear to depict the practice across our profession fairly accurately. With the exception of participation in national organizations, student-oriented and local activities emerge as significantly more important in regional institutions. Emphasis on refereed publications was clearly higher among those working in land grant institutions. Although similar patterns were present when the question shifted to perceptions of what the criteria should be, all but one significant difference disappeared. These results indicate that those within the industrial technology and technology education profession believe that the criteria used to conduct post-tenure review within different types of institutions should be more alike than they currently are.

As a corollary to the question of criteria, respondents were asked to indicate the types of documents used in their institutions to generate data for the post-tenure review process. The emphasis on student evaluations and supervisor evaluations and relative de-emphasis of peer evaluations and teaching portfolios reflect established patterns within colleges and universities. It is important to note that while the ranking remained relatively stable when asked about ideal practice, actual mean differences among the top four items essentially disappeared ( see Table 7 ).

Table 6
Criteria Used During the Post-tenure Review Process
Criteria Actual
Should Be M Actual
Should Be M Actual
Should Be
Should Be
Should Be
Land Grant
Should Be
Land Grant
Teaching quality 1 4.34 1 4.64 4.64* 4.00* 4.74 4.48 4.62* 3.60* 4.74 4.50
Refereed publications 2 3.38 4 3.49 3.16 3.41 3.38 3.48 3.13* 4.05* 3.39 3.77
Student advisement/supervision 3 3.27 2 3.93 3.57 3.13 4.09 3.86 3.38 2.80 3.88 4.05
Curriculum development/innovation 4 3.26 3 3.92 3.55* 3.00* 4.05 3.79 3.44* 2.80* 3.95 3.73
Presenting at national conference 5 3.18 5 3.47 3.28 3.00 3.52 3.38 3.33 3.00 3.51 3.32
Participation in campus committees 6 3.14 7 3.25 3.47* 2.83* 3.58* 3.03* 3.41* 2.40* 3.35* 2.82*
Participation in national organizations 7 2.84 6 3.45 3.03* 2.58* 3.53 3.34 2.97* 2.50* 3.44 3.27
Grant writing 8 3.02 8 3.14 2.87 3.17 3.15 3.03 2.92 3.45 3.12 3.18
Non-refereed publications 9 2.69 9 2.99 2.58 2.71 2.87 3.03 2.71 2.65 3.02 2.91
5 = Extremely Important, 4 = Very Important, 3 = Important, 2 = Somewhat Important, 1 = Not Important *Sig < .05

Table 7
Documents Used in the Post-tenure Review Process

Actual Practice Should be Practice
Documents Used Rank Mean Rank Mean

Student Evaluations 1 3.86 2 3.78
Supervisor Observations/ Evaluations 2 3.79 1 3.87
Teaching Portfolio 3 3.53 3 3.72
Peer Observations/ Evaluation 4 3.37 4 3.71
Vitae 5 3.32 5 3.33

5 = Extremely Important; 4 = Very Important; 3 = Important; 2 = Somewhat Important;
1 = Not Important

Problems Encountered

One of the key issues in the post-tenure review literature has to do with problems inherent in or encountered during the review process. Table 8 presents a listing of seven problems in rank order. The top-rated problems focus on practical issues (e.g., use of resources and excessive paperwork). As one moves through the list, it is apparent that the problems tend to generalize beyond self-interested concerns, to broader concerns with the process (e.g., collegiality and source of data). The lowest rated problems are the most philosophical (e.g., academic freedom and threats to the tenure system). The mean scores for all of the listed problems tend to fall within the lower half of the five-point rating scale. The two problems involving resource concerns had means that indicate that they are slightly higher than "important." These data suggest that the concerns identified by some other academic areas may be less pronounced within the industrial technology and technology education field.

The data for problems also were analyzed using the same two independent variables as in the previous analyses. Somewhat predictably, significant differences emerged between faculty and department chairpersons. Faculty were significantly more concerned about the burdens imposed by the process and the threat to academic freedom. It is interesting to note that the significant differences occurred at the opposite ends of the practical-philosophical continuum.

Table 8
Critiques of the Post-tenure Review Process

Problems/Critiques Rank M Chairs Faculty Regional Land Grant

Excessive paperwork 1 3.16 2.76* 3.62* 3.18 3.04
Consumes resources (time, money) 2 3.10 2.76* 3.48* 3.00 3.29
Does not work (does not motivate faculty) 3 2.85 2.66 3.20 2.70 3.05
Disrupts collegiality 4 2.50 2.36 2.69 2.32 2.76
Relies too heavily on student evaluations 5 2.43 2.45 2.28 2.57 2.00
Threatens the tenure system 6 2.15 2.03 2.30 1.70* 2.82*
Counter to academic freedom 7 1.97 1.63* 2.37* 1.60* 2.50*

5 = Extremely Important; 4 = Very Important; 3 = Important; 2 = Somewhat Important; 1 = Not Important * Sig. -p < .05

Significant differences were also detected when the data were analyzed by institutional type. Here, the differences were primarily at the philosophical end of the continuum. Nothing in the analysis was designed to interpret this finding. It would be instructive to examine whether the differences are related to the type of institution, the type of individuals who are attracted to different institutions, or both.

Causes of Poor Performance

The next section of the instrument was designed to identify root causes of poor, post-tenure faculty performance. The rationale for exploring this factor was positive, based on the assumption that if causes of poor performance could be identified, they could be subsequently addressed and remedied. Nine causes were identified in the review of the literature (see Table 9 ). These causes consisted primarily of extrinsic reward factors (e.g., lack of recognition or reward and lack of encouragement, etc.). Three of the top four causes had to do with the absence of extrinsic rewards. The exception to this pattern was the item dealing with the inability to cope with rapid changes in technology. This cause of poor performance would appear to be more related to a personal sense of job-related self-efficacy than to extrinsic rewards. The items relating to supervision, evaluation, and encouragement appear to represent an absence of affirmation from those in supervisory positions. It is interesting that these types of psychological rewards were perceived to be less problematic than the absence of physical rewards.

Table 9
Root Causes of Poor Faculty Performance at the Post-tenure Level

Problems/Critiques Rank M Chairs Faculty Regional Land Grant

Lack of recognition / reward 1 3.66 3.71 3.60 3.82 3.32
Inability to keep up with technological change 2 3.49 3.62 3.16 3.67 3.14
Lack of resources 3 3.18 3.20 3.23 3.33 2.95
Lack of encouragement 4 3.12 2.71* 3.43* 3.04 3.09
Lack of appropriate supervision 5 3.01 2.97 3.07 3.05 2.82
Lack of regular evaluation 6 2.93 2.80 2.86 3.22 2.55
The tenure system 7 2.90 3.12 2.60 3.00 2.77
Lack of opportunities for professional development 8 2.59 2.59 2.67 2.58 2.27
Personal health problems 9 2.07 1.94 2.21 2.14 1.77

5 = Extremely Problematic; 4 = Very Problematic; 3 = Problematic; 2 = Somewhat Problematic; 1 = Not Problematic * Sig. -p < .05

When the data were analyzed by position type, only one significant difference emerged. Faculty rated the importance of lack of encouragement as more critical than did chairpersons. No significant differences were detected between the perceptions of those working in land grant and regional universities.

The structured section of the instrument concluded with a question designed to obtain a summary of perceptions of the overall value of the post-tenure review process. As could be anticipated from analyses presented above, the most evident view of the industrial and technology education profession is that the benefits of post-tenure review may not be worth the effort necessary to conduct the process. At the same time, when the two positive views are combined (i.e., opportunity for professional growth and considerable work with perceived benefit), there appears to be some support for and perception of value in post-tenure review ( see Table 10 ).

Table 10

How Faculty View the Post-tenure Review Process Frequency Percentage

As an excessive amount of work without perceived benefit. 39 48.75%
As an opportunity for professional growth. 29 36.25%
As a significant disruption to faculty morale. 21 26.25%
As a considerable amount of work with a perceived benefit 15 18.75%

Improvement Suggestions

The final question on the survey was an open-ended invitation to make suggestions for how the post-tenure review process could be improved. A diverse set of responses were clustered into representative statements, which were designed to capture the substance of suggestions made by the respondents ( see Table 11 ). The most frequent suggestion had to do with linking post-tenure reviews more closely with financial rewards. A number of responses had to do with simplifying or modifying the review process to accomplish desirable goals such as clarifying criteria, enhancing communication, and streamlining the process. Several responses indicated a need to focus on faculty development and revitalization, in contrast to a system based on extrinsic rewards and punishment.

Table 11

Improvement Suggestions Frequency

Include better merit pay incentives 12
Spend more time doing a better job with the process 8
Make the policies more consistent across campus 5
Punish poor performance with heavier loads, less pay, dismissal 4
Put more emphasis on evaluating teaching 4
Provide more resources to support it 3
Maintain a clear focus on faculty development and revitalization 3
Simplify and reduce the paperwork involved 3
Eliminate it 3
Establish clear criteria and standards for the process 3
Remove good ole’ boy practices 2
Replace tenure system 2
Make it mandatory 2
Start one 2
More faculty input into the process 2
More open communication 1
Make it less structured and less formal 1

Conclusions and Implications

The findings of this study suggest that there is concern about and interest in issues related to post-tenure review across the profession. The perception is that industrial technology and technology education faculty are generally performing rather well. However, factors such as escalating job demands, shifts in academic culture, changing technology, and public demand for accountability combine to make ongoing post-tenure professional development a priority. Most of the issues and concerns that industrial technology and technology educators have regarding post-tenure review are consistent with those that have been identified in other academic areas (e.g., ambivalence over cost vs. benefits, level and type of faculty involvement, increasing emphasis on research, etc.). Also consistent with the literature, industrial and technology educators voiced significant concern about the overall quality and appropriateness of the procedures used to assess the quality of faculty performance.

Based on the review of the literature and the findings of this study, a conceptual framework was developed to depict two models of post-tenure review that reflect the disparate ends of a post-tenure review continuum. At one end of the continuum is a model entitled "An Authoritarian/Factory Model;" at the other end of the continuum is a model termed "A Collegial/Facilitative Model" (see Figure 2 ).

Several comments can and should be made about the foregoing models. First, they represent extreme and mutually distinct positions. In reality, aspects of both are typically represented within academic institutions at various points in time and across academic departments. Second, departments and institutions are characterized by a complex mix of personalities, procedures, and traditions that comprise "institutional culture." These cultures are frequently quite resilient and resistant to change. With changes in leadership and institutional priorities, significant and sustained change can and does occur. Thus, it is important to recognize that a department or a chairperson is typically bound by a strong set of constraints when instituting or implementing policy such as a post-tenure review process. Models such as those depicted above thus represent targets, which a faculty, institutions, and administration can reference as they develop a workable process within the constraints of a given institution.

Figure 2.
Models of post-tenure review.

Authoritarian/Factory Model Collegial/Facilitative Model

Driven primarily by extrinsic rewards Focused primarily on intrinsic rewards
Emphasis on eliminating "dead wood" Emphasis on faculty development
Top-down administrative structures Shared-governance structures
Punitive (eliminating poor performers) Supportive (eliminating root causes)
Authoritarian Collaborative
Criteria established and applied by administration Criteria established and applied collaboratively
Restricted and limited communication Open communication process
Designed to produce efficient and productive "workers" Designed to produce reflective, creative practitioners

Within the context of these observations about the nature of institutional change and the two extreme positions represented by the Authoritarian/Factory and Collegial/Facilitative post-tenure models, it is possible to make some observations about the culture and practice of the industrial technology and technology education profession relative to the post-tenure review process. Based on the analysis of the data, the profession tends to favor some elements of the Authoritarian/Factory model of post-tenure review. Specific examples include a preference for extrinsic rewards, support for administrative initiation of the process, concern about the overall efficiency of the process, and the desire to link post-tenure review closely with merit pay. It is possible that the profession might wish to consider ways in which the existing institutional culture can be altered to explore alternative, more supportive, and growth-producing approaches to the post tenure process. Perhaps something like the Collegial/Facilitative model would represent a step in the right direction.


Given the findings of this study, and in the context of the foregoing presentation and discussion, we make the following recommendations:

  1. Those responsible for evaluating faculty should develop mechanisms for involving faculty in developing and implementing review policies and procedures.
  2. Every attempt should be made to conduct pre- and post-tenure faculty reviews in a manner that is formative and supportive, where communication is open, inclusive, and frequent.
  3. Faculty development planning should be carefully designed to identify, emphasize, and maximize the intrinsically meaningful aspects of academic life, while shifting the emphasis away from extrinsic rewards and punitive procedures.
  4. The industrial and technology education profession should identify ways in which faculty development needs within our field of study are unique, due to factors such as maintaining technical skills in a time of rapid technological change, increasing expectations for conducting research, and significant curricular change.
  5. Graduate teacher education programs should include, within their programs of study, issues such as faculty reward structures, performance expectations, planning for professional development, and academic culture.


Bennett , J. B., & Chater, S. S. (1983, Spring). Evaluating the performance of tenured faculty members. Educational Record , 65 (2), 38-41.

Diamond , R. M. (1994, Summer). Redefining scholarly and professional work. Metropolitan Universities: An International Forum , 5 (1), 62-67.

Goodman , M. J. (1994, Fall). The review of tenured faculty at a research university: Outcomes and appraisals. The Review of Higher Education , 18 (1), 83-94.

Gorman , R. (1997). The AAUP and post-tenure review . Footnotes: A publication of the American Association of University Professors, xx, 2-3.

Johnson , G. (1993, Winter/Spring). Post-tenure review: Practical considerations. Journal for Higher Education Management , 8 (2), 19-29.

Licata , C. (1986). Post-tenure faculty evaluation: Threat or opportunity? (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1). Washington DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education.

Licata , C. M., & Andrews, H. A. (1992). Faculty leaders' responses to post-tenure evaluation practices. Community/Junior College Quarterly , 16 (1), 47-56.

Magner , D. K. (1995, July 21). Beyond tenure. The Chronicle of Higher Education , 41 (45), A13-A16.

Perley , J. E. (1995, January/February). Problems in the academy: Tenure, academic freedom, and governance. Academe , 81 (1), 43-47.

Reisman , B. (1986). Performance evaluation for tenured faculty: Issues and research. Association of American Colleges, Liberal Education , 72 (1), 73-87.

Wesson , M., & Johnson, S. (1991, May/June). Post-tenure review and faculty revitalization. Academe , 77 (3), 53-57.