Friday, October 10, 2008

Peer Review

I'm in the middle of one.

You may have heard that once professors have tenure they can get away with anything and no one ever checks on them. Those days are over. Accreditation agencies are demanding that colleges and universities have some form of post-tenure review. My college has taken what is probably the last stressful route to satisfy that requirement: peer review teams.

This year there are six people "up" and we have been divided into two groups of three. We are sitting in each others' classes. We have to share five years of yearly self-evaluations, summaries of student evaluations, summaries of our service to the college and community, and information about our scholarly pursuits. We are to sit around and chat about our challenges, give each other ideas, and then we will do a round-robin of writing letters of evaluation for each other.

In some moods I think it is all a great idea.

In some moods it gives me anxiety attacks. This is all supposed to be developmental, which means it is supposed to be totally safe to talk about your weaknesses because we are supposed to be helping each other. And the fact that all this culminates in a letter that goes to the review committee in which someone will say whether I should have a non-developmental review (i.e. a really scary one), in no way deflects from the fact that this is a environment in which I should feel totally safe exposing my weaknesses.


Fortunately my team one I feel pretty good about. The other woman is determined to do this as thoroughly and effeciently as possible -- and that helps mightily. The other team member is someone I really do feel safe with and as he is the only one who can come to my upper division class, he will write a letter about me. So that helps too. He will be doing a trip during winter quarter so we have to finish early. Also good. Still, submitting myself to the judgment of others is not something that I do without anxiety, even under the best of circumstances.

Intellectually, I see nothing to be nervous about.

As long as I remember to breathe.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure it will be fine, but it does sound pretty intense. Yikes. Besides, don't you have a lot of other stuff going on at work? I seem to remember you saying that you were exceptionally busy. It's sort of annoying that they're putting this obligation on you as well. I'm a professor as well (pre-tenure), and my department just started putting together post-tenure review guidelines at the behest of the dean. Nothing that's this much work, though. I wonder if this is where we're all heading.

    Good luck! It sounds like you're pretty amazing at your job, so I'm sure it will turn out great!


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