Final Report: Task Force on the Implications of the Evaluation of Faculty Productivity and Teaching Effectiveness

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

ASA Centennial


American Sociological Association

Publication Date



The Task Force on the Implications of the Evaluation of Faculty Productivity and Teaching Effectiveness was charged in 1999 by ASA Council to determine whether faculty productively measures (including outcomes assessment measures) used by institutions of higher education and various external agencies “threaten the freedom of faculty teaching and research.” The Task Force was asked further to examine the ways in which productivity-reporting requirements affect faculty, to report on “best practices,” and to make any recommendations for appropriate ASA action to the Council. The report produced by the Task Force highlights the contextual factors that help to explain the increased emphasis in the United States on the evaluation of faculty productivity and the assessment of student learning outcomes including a series of social movements to adapt corporate models to the university and to consider teaching as scholarship. In addition, the Task Force stresses that discussions of faculty productivity are greatly complicated by definitional issues. The Task Force draws a critical distinction between the productivity of individual faculty members and the productivity of larger entities such as departments or colleges. They also distinguish between faculty productivity and student outcomes. Studies of aggregate productivity are complicated by numerous quantitative measures of the “production of students.” While the gathering of data on individuals in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service has a long history, disputes continue about how to measure these aspects of productivity. Faculty annual activity reports are the most common way to measure these types of productivity. These measures are then aggregated and provided to administrators. When an aggregate is the unit of analysis, faculty productivity can be measured by asking faculty members to complete activity reports that indicate how work time has been used over a given period of time (usually an academic year).


Originally published by the American Sociological Association. HTML fulltext available through remote link.