Syllabus Requirements & Your Evaluation
When faculty—especially new faculty members—have questions about what's required in syllabi here at Santa Rosa Junior College, the answers they get depend on whom they ask. And that can be a problem. The wide range of opinions about what must be included in a syllabus creates confusion, and this confusion can come to a head during the evaluation process.
AFA frequently supports faculty members whose well-intentioned evaluation team members have given the faculty member an "improvement needed" ranking because they determined that something was "missing" from a syllabus. However, the requirements of the syllabus are contractual and are specified in Article 17: Job Descriptions, and, as Articles 14A/14B make clear, evaluations are inextricably linked to Article 17. An evaluation team can't find fault with an evaluee for not performing a task that Article 17 doesn't actually require him or her to perform.
In other words, each faculty member being evaluated can and should be held accountable for fulfilling the requirements of the job description, as defined in Article 17, including what's required in the syllabus. The problem occurs when evaluators attempt to hold a faculty member responsible for syllabus requirements that aren't actually specified in the Contract. Evaluators may assume that something they learned about best practices in creating syllabi is actually required, or that they can penalize an evaluee whose syllabus doesn't conform to currently defined best practices. But these assumptions are incorrect. While an evaluator may point out the benefits of incorporating certain best practices into a syllabus, the evaluee's failure to do so does not constitute grounds for an "improvement needed" ranking.
We recommend that all faculty members regularly review Article 17: Job Descriptions to be sure that they are fulfilling the requirements of the Contract so that the evaluation process goes smoothly.