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College Guidelines 2018



The following guidelines for awarding promotion and tenure in the College of Education are offered with the understanding that reasoned judgments ultimately must be made about the merits of individual cases. The significant breadth of the field of education makes it difficult to provide detailed statements about what successful performance entails within individual branches of the field. Rather, and in accord with AC-23, general and broad guidelines are provided herein for promotion and tenure committees within the College that allow for the exercise of skilled, informed, and objective professional and academic judgments. The committees will apply progressively more exacting standards as the candidate moves from assistant to associate to professor. More specific guidelines than those presented here may be found in department publications and AC-23.




The College recognizes the scholarship of teaching and learning; the scholarship of research and creative accomplishments; and service and the scholarship of service to the University, society, and the profession. Promotion and tenure shall be based on recognized performance and achievement in each of these areas. The following general guidelines will be followed by the College’s promotion and tenure committees:


1. It is the responsibility of the Department Head (drafted in consultation with the designated administrator from a non-University Park, Penn State location, when appropriate) to prepare a dossier which documents the quality of the candidate's contributions and impact of these contributions in each of three areas: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; The Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments; and Service and the Scholarship of Service to the University, Society, and the Profession.


2. Promotion and tenure are separate, but not necessarily independent, decisions. The promotion and tenure committees consider the same functional categories in their deliberations on both promotion and tenure. A decision to promote a candidate is based on recognized performance and achievement in each of the areas discussed below, with reference to the responsibilities assigned to the faculty member. Tenure decisions are based on the candidates’ potential for future advancement in those areas as indicated by their performance during the provisional period. The tenure decision is a particularly critical one.


3. The University-defined categories for promotion and tenure consideration are not mutually exclusive. Ultimately, the promotion and tenure committees will judge each individual's record as a whole, considering his/her overall performance pattern while at the same time being cognizant of each evaluation area. In cases where a faculty member has a joint appointment with another unit (within or outside of the College), committees need to be sensitive to the legitimate demands of the other unit on the faculty member’s time.


4. Although the College promotion and tenure committee will be aware of the criteria of the department in which the initial review takes place, the College committee's primary task will be to bring broader faculty judgment to departmental recommendations regarding individual candidates. In these matters, the committee will also monitor the general standards of quality, equity, and adequacy of the procedures and criteria employed consistent with the College's vision, mission, and goals. For favorable consideration, an individual's activity should contribute to the vision, mission, goals, and needs of the College and tend to increase the overall excellence of the College. Changes in the vision, mission, and goals of the College over time and corresponding accomplishments of the candidate will be considered by the committee.


5. Both the academic and professional merits of candidates will concern the promotion and tenure committees. The reference group for comparison is the candidate's academic peers and colleagues both from within and from outside the University.


6. The sources of evidence to be used in examining each individual's record are those identified in AC-23, in department criteria, and in other relevant materials. Candidates should present whatever evidence they believe to be important in assisting the committees to arrive at a fair and impartial judgment of their unique function and competence. The promotion and tenure committees will also consider the faculty member's assigned duties when evaluating each section of the dossier. Candidates are encouraged to include a single narrative statement of no more than three pages at the front of the dossier that indicates their sense of their accomplishments in the scholarship of teaching and learning; the scholarship of research and creative accomplishments; and service and the scholarship of service to the University, society and the profession. The purpose of the statement is to give candidates the opportunity to place their work and activities in the context of their overall goals and agendas.


7. Upon the request of College Department Heads, candidates will be asked to provide the names of not more than three individuals the candidate feels would be qualified to assess the relative merits of the candidate's work. Upon receiving the candidate’s list, Department Heads will then consult with other experts in the field, including the Professor-in-Charge of the relevant graduate program for the purpose of adding to this list.  The Department Heads will then assemble a final list of not fewer than six names  that is submitted to the Dean along with a brief biographical sketch for each name. The Dean will independently choose at least four individuals from the list to contact. The Department Head will be notified of the Dean’s selection.


8. Candidates should include their narrative statement with the materials that are shared with the evaluators from outside the University. The purpose of this statement is to provide the external evaluators with a contextual framework with which to judge the candidate’s line of research. The candidate’s supporting materials should include a list of the publications forwarded to the evaluators.


9. In cases where the candidate’s appointment is co-funded by a University consortium [e.g., the Children, Youth, and Families Consortium (CYFC)], the department head should comment on the nature, extent, and success of the candidate’s involvement with the consortium in the department head’s letter of evaluation.


10. The candidate is expected to review the portions of the dossier he/she has access to for accuracy before the dossier goes to the committees. In accordance with HR-60, Access to Personnel Files, candidates have the legal right and are encouraged to inspect all information in the dossier including the internal evaluations of committees and administrators and excluding the external letters of assessment, as provided for in AC-23, at the conclusion of the promotion and tenure process.





This section outlines the criteria and expectations comprising the basis of judgments to be made in each of the three categories currently provided for in AC-23. At this time, AC-23 recognizes the following three categories: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; The Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments; and Service and the Scholarship of Service to the University, Society, and the Profession. The criteria, kinds of judgments to be made, and the nature of supporting evidence to be considered in making these judgments in the promotion and tenure categories are extensions of, and consistent with, the guidelines provided in AC-23.




A candidate's professional responsibilities in the scholarship of teaching and learning, including regular classroom instruction, independent study, thesis direction and assistance, and academic advisement and consultation with students, will be used by the committee to evaluate the candidate within the context of the candidate's job responsibilities. The basis for judgment and the typical evidence used by faculty members to support their proficiencies in this area are explicated below.


The committee will more heavily weigh evidence that consists of systematic and impartially monitored peer observations of teaching ability and effectiveness gathered as part of the normal arrangements of a department for the development and guidance of its faculty. These peer observations of teaching will be informed by the goals the College establishes for teaching as articulated in the following paragraph.


The committee will judge instruction, courses, and workshops, which may include continuing, online, and distance education, service learning courses, international programs, and cooperative extension programs in terms of: (a) suitability of the instructional program’s objectives; (b) the degree to which classroom instructional activities contribute to student development and achievement or levels of performance commensurate with these objectives; (c) the maintenance of a teaching and learning environment where students are treated as welcomed contributors; and (d) the correspondence of evaluation procedures to these course objectives and instructional activities. Evidence provided by the instructor may include current or proposed course outlines, syllabi, study materials, and course communications in addition to evidence provided by students and evidence provided by faculty colleagues. For all course delivery modes, including those taught through the World Campus, evaluations by colleagues may include reviews of instructor provided course materials, feedback to students, samples of student work, and instructional strategies found in course communications such as discussion forums, chats, email exchanges, and posted announcements or prompts.


For formal and informal individual instruction (i.e., directing or assisting in independent study, thesis research, or individual projects), the instruction should be responsive to student needs and should enhance curricular and professional goals of the program and department. Evidence supporting a faculty member's proficiency in this area may include illustrative programs, research projects, and study topics developed for and with students.


Judgments regarding academic advisement and informal consultation will rest on the faculty member's responsiveness to student needs and effectiveness in achieving program goals with minimal confusion and conflict. The candidate may provide satisfactory evidence through impartial department procedures, using such things as faculty and administrators' observations and periodically solicited comments from currently enrolled and/or previously graduated students.




Research and creative accomplishments consist of original works disseminated to an audience of peers. Promotion and tenure committees will base their judgments on the quality and quantity of such efforts as determined by the extent to which the research and creative accomplishments are: (a) conceptual rather than merely technical, (b) the products of sustained and programmatic activity as contrasted with unrelated and unfocused activity, and (c) significant in their effects on thought and practice.


Evidence of research and creative accomplishments may take many forms including: articles published in refereed journals, especially those that are considered prestigious and well regarded in the faculty member's principal area of emphasis; books and monographs; chapters or parts of books; involvement in funded projects (completed, in progress, and proposed); new computer software programs; papers presented at technical and professional meetings; and, honors and awards for scholarship, creative production, and professional activity, in addition to the other categories enumerated in the University's Promotion and Tenure Guidelines. Candidates are not necessarily expected to present a record that includes entries for every possible type of evidence.

Implicit in these illustrations of evidence is the view that the product has been subjected to the judgment of professional peers who are sufficiently informed to evaluate quality. Research and creative accomplishments which have been favorably reviewed by professional or academic peers will be weighed more significantly than those that have not. Within the constraints described in this section and the candidate's assigned duties, publications jointly written with students are also valued. The extent to which a faculty member stimulates research and creative accomplishment in students and peers is important.


The candidate's active memberships in professional societies (when there was recognition through election to major offices or committees) constitute another source of evidence of accomplishment in this area of performance when such information is accompanied by descriptions of the contributions made to these organizations.




On the one hand, service and the scholarship of service to the University, society, and the profession encompasses activities that are internal to the University, College, department, or program that contribute to governance, management, and administration for the achievement of the institution's goals. Such activities, for example, include committee work at the University, campus, College, or departmental level; involvement with the College Faculty Council, University Faculty Senate, Graduate Council; and administrative support work such as professor-in-charge of a graduate program or coordinator of an administrative office.


On the other hand, service and the scholarship of service to the University, society, and the profession encompasses activities that involve the faculty member's professional expertise and the application of this expertise for the betterment of organizations and entities that are external to the University. Such activities, for example, include consulting to assist the Pennsylvania Department of Education, schools, businesses, and other institutions or agencies; providing formal and informal credit and non-credit education programs for youth and adults; organizing conferences and service on conference committees making speeches and other responses to requests from citizen groups; and membership and significant participation on task forces, meetings of public, non-profit, or private organizations, governmental agencies, and industry; and service on committees and other invited work for professional organizations and learned societies.


The quality of service will be determined by such indicators as type and scope of professionally related service; offices held within governmental and related organizations; and letters or other written documents that attest to the value and effectiveness of the candidate's contributions. Articles or other written materials that elucidate the intellectual grounds and plans underlying a faculty member's service activities can provide useful insights into the significance of the service being provided.




Endorsed by the College of Education Faculty Council on April 21, 2016.

Updated references to current policy AC-23, September 2018