Continuity of Operations planning information for the College of Education: Click here


Curriculum and Instruction 2020

Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

Part 1: Policy on Promotion and Tenure Criteria

The following bases for awarding promotion and tenure at the department level are offered with the recognition that these procedures and criteria will continue to require reasoned judgments in determining academic and professional merit. Although these are formal statements, they are insufficient for the entire task of making a judgment on a given candidate because of the variety of fields, goals, and orientations represented in the emphasis areas and areas of faculty expertise within the Department. The development of a more detailed statement of criteria does not appear to be a feasible undertaking under such circumstances. Rather, in accord with AC23, general and broad guidelines are provided for the Department's promotion and tenure committee that allow for the exercise of skilled, informed, and objective professional and academic judgments in the decision- making process on promotion and tenure at the Department level. The committee will apply progressively more exacting standards as the candidate moves from assistant professor to associate professor to professor.


The following general principles will guide the promotion and tenure committee:

  1. It is the responsibility of the Department Head, in consultation with the candidate (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 committee considers the same functional categories in its deliberations on both promotion and tenure. A decision to promote a candidate is based on recognized performance and achievement in each of the criterion areas discussed below, with reference to the responsibilities assigned to the faculty member. Tenure decisions are based on the candidate's 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 committee 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.
  4. The Department committee's primary task will be to bring broad faculty judgment to the candidate's record of performance. 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 Department's and College's visions, missions, and goals. For favorable consideration, an individual's activity should contribute to the vision, mission, goals, and needs of the Department and College, and tend to increase the overall excellence of the Department. The Department will annually provide a document describing its vision, mission, and goals to each candidate coming under review and to each member of the promotion and tenure committee charged with rendering a judgment concerning a candidate. Changes in the vision, mission, and goals of the Department and 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 committee. 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 AC23, in Department criteria, and in other relevant materials. The committee encourages faculty members to expand the information provided. Candidates should present whatever evidence they believe to be important in assisting the committee to arrive at a fair and impartial judgment of their unique function and competence. The promotion and tenure committee will also consider the faculty member's assigned duties when evaluating each section of the dossier. Candidates should include a narrative statement that contextualizes and clarifies the candidate's work in each of the three areas (i.e., issues and themes in teaching, foci or line of research, focus or highlights of service). The statement should clarify and integrate items from the dossier rather than simply repeat them. The statement should be in the form of a three-page statement at the beginning of the dossier.
  7. The candidate is expected to review his/her dossier for accuracy before it goes to the department committee. In addition, each candidate is encouraged to inspect his/her dossier after either the promotion and/or tenure decisions have been rendered. In accordance with HR-60, Access to Personnel Files, candidates have the legal right to inspect all information in the dossier except for documents in the External Letters of Assessment section. External letters of assessment, prepared by third parties external to the University, the log of external letters, and the statement on how the external evaluators were selected, may not be inspected by the candidate.


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 AC23. At this time, AC23 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 AC23 for department-level promotion and tenure reviews.


A candidate's professional responsibilities in teaching, 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, theoretically based, and impartially monitored observations of teaching ability and effectiveness gathered as part of the normal arrangements of a department for the development and guidance of its faculty. The committee will base its judgments on data and reliable evidence.

The committee will judge regular classroom instruction in terms of: (a) suitability of instructional objectives to the program, to the level of student ability, and to the development of professional competence; (b) the degree to which classroom instructional activity contributes to student development and achievement or levels of performance commensurate with these objectives; and (c) the correspondence of evaluation procedures to these course objectives and instructional activities. Evidence may include current or proposed course outlines, syllabi, and study materials; written critical judgments by students, colleagues, and administrators; and course and colleague evaluation of instruction.

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. Typical evidences of teaching and advising effectiveness (e.g., evaluation by faculty and students) emerging from this individual instruction and advising, along with descriptions of the faculty member's role in this type of instruction, are possible sources of documentation.

Judgments regarding academic advisement and informal consultation will rest on the faculty member's responsiveness to student needs and their 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.


Contributions in this category consist of research, creative accomplishments, scholarship, and mastery of subject matter. Research and creative accomplishments consist of original works disseminated to an audience of peers. The promotion and tenure committee will base its judgments on the quality and quantity of such efforts, 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 spasmodic activity, and (c) significant in their effects on thought and practice.

Typical evidence of research and creative accomplishments includes articles in refereed journals, especially those that are considered prestigious representations of the faculty member's principal orientation; books and monographs; chapters or parts of books; and research reports to funding agencies.

Implicit in these illustrations of evidence of research and creative accomplishments is that the product has been subjected to the judgment of professional peers who are sufficiently informed to evaluate its quality and the quantity. Research and creative accomplishments, which imply favorable evaluations by professional or academic peers, will be weighted more significantly than those that have not. However, promotion and tenure committees are also required to evaluate the quality and quantity of the faculty member's publications. Within the constraints described in this section and the candidate's assigned duties, publications jointly written with students and dissertations, papers, or theses published will be considered. The extent to which the faculty member stimulates research and creative accomplishment in students and peers is also important.

Contributions in this category describable as scholarship or mastery of subject matter should reveal the candidate's continued growth in his/her discipline. Clearly involved are performance in both curricular development and research or creative activities.

Evidence concerning scholarship might include a listing and description of recent unpublished research, advanced study, and record of participation in seminars, presentations, and/or workshops. Other evidence, adequately documented, might include edited textbooks; published, original computer programs; descriptions of speaking engagements; presentations of professional papers and/or other activities in which there was use of the candidate's expertise; descriptions of new (or appreciably revised) courses reflecting that the candidate is "on the forefront" in his/her field; and honors and awards for scholarship, creative production, and professional activity. Particularly significant evidence of scholarship and mastery of subject matter would include invited addresses to professional groups, the candidate's presentation at advanced professional symposia, and colloquium addresses at other universities. Papers, presentations, and exhibits with students presented at professional and technical meetings will also be considered.

Collaboration is valued in our department. However, it is important to bear in mind that tenure and promotion decisions are based on the case of the individual scholar. If relevant, candidates are encouraged to clarify the role of collaboration in their work as well their role in collaborative

products, so that those reviewing the dossier can evaluate the contribution of the candidate. This may happen in the narrative and/or in the dossier. Examples of ways to do this in the dossier might include percentages, descriptors (e.g., "equal contributions by authors," "primary author", "contributing author"), or a single sentence characterizing the candidate's contribution on collaborative products (e.g., articles, presentations, creative projects, teaching, service).

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 scholarship and mastery of subject matter when such information is accompanied by descriptions of the contributions made to these organizations.

Candidates are not necessarily expected to present evidence of every type of scholarship and mastery of subject matter suggested above.


On the one hand, scholarship of service to the university, society, and the profession encompasses those activities that are internal to the University, College, Department, or program that contribute to governance, management, and administration for effective achievement of the institution's goals. Such activities, for example, include committee work at the University, campus, College, or departmental level, representation and participation in College Faculty Council, University Faculty Senate, or Graduate Council; and administrative support work such as professor- in-charge of a program, graduate officer, or administrator of project funds and personnel.

On the other hand, scholarship of service to the university, society, and the profession encompasses those activities that involve the faculty member's professional expertise; that are external to the University community; and/or that are responsive to Commonwealth, federal, and international needs; and/or responsive to the needs of professional organizations and learned societies. 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; making speeches and other responses to requests from citizen groups; and membership and significant participation in community affairs, public and private organizations, governmental agencies, and industry; and service on committees and other invited work for professional organizations and learned societies.

The quality and quantity 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 from, or by, constituents and colleagues that attest to the value and effectiveness of the candidate's contribution. Articles or other written materials that elucidate the intellectual grounds and plans underlying a faculty member's service activities provide excellent documentation. The committee will assume that the amount and kind of service are a function of the faculty member's assigned responsibility and specialization within the field of education.

Part II: Process of Tenure and Promotion Review

  1. An evaluation of the candidate's teaching will be conducted by a peer or peers, from the candidate's unit and campus, appointed by the Department Head or the appropriate administrator from a non-University Park Penn State location in consultation with the candidate. When appropriate, one individual can represent both the unit and the campus. This evaluation will be formulated following a review of course materials, interviews with the candidate and observations (live or videos) of the candidate's teaching for a minimum of 100 minutes prior to the fourth-year tenure review and 200 cumulative minutes prior to the sixth year tenure review and any subsequent promotion reviews. In each case, at least 100 minutes of observation must have occurred within the last 24 months.
  2. The decision is made to prepare materials for promotion/tenure as a result of the faculty member:
    1. being subject to 2nd, 4th, 6th year tenure review.
    2. deciding to request promotion to the rank of associate or full professor based upon a discussion with colleagues and the Department Head or the appropriate administrator from a non-University Park Penn State location concerning the appropriateness of such an application.
  3. Overseeing the preparation of the dossier is the responsibility of the Department Head or the appropriate administrator from a non-University Park Penn State location. The Department Head will work with the candidate in:
    1.  identifying evidence of work in the three major areas of academic performance, i.e., 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, as indicated in the Department criteria.
    2. determining equivalent/alternative kinds of evidence that might be used to document the quality and quantity of work in each area.
    3. preparing a three-page narrative as an introduction to the dossier to contextualize and justify the candidate's work in each of the three areas (i.e. issues and themes in teaching, work foci or line of research in research, focus or highlights of service).
  4. The Department Head will:
    1. For 2nd, 4th, 6th year and promotion reviews, solicit letters from three PSU faculty that address teaching effectiveness. Letters should be attentive to the following items: (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.
    2. For 6th year and promotion reviews, submit a list of at least six potential external reviewers to the Dean. The Department Head will solicit from the PIC of the candidate's emphasis area and the candidate recommendations for some of the potential reviewers. A paragraph on each reviewer specifying rank, department, university, prominence in the field, and qualifications as external reviewer will be part of the list. The Dean may select from this listing of external reviewers or may solicit additional reviewers. The letters from external reviewers should emphasize the candidate's scholarship and research, with additional perceptions on teaching and service where appropriate.
  5. When the dossier of evidence is complete and organized and mutually agreed upon by the candidate and the Department Head according to the guidelines provided by the University, College and Department, it will be submitted to the Department Faculty Review Committee responsible for tenure and promotion through the Department Head. This will occur no later than November 1 of the year in which the review will be completed for the 4th year, 6th year, and subsequent review, and no later than March 1 for 2nd year review.
  6. The Department Faculty Review Committee will then review the candidate's dossier (and additional materials submitted at all candidate review levels: second year, fourth year, fifth year, sixth year) using the following procedures:
    1. The tenure-line faculty in the Department will identify through an election the members of the Faculty Review Committee who will review a candidate's materials and related information concerning tenure and/or promotion. The Committee must meet all University, College and Department regulations concerning the membership of such committees. Accordingly, the Department Faculty Review Committee, otherwise known as The Department of Curriculum and Instruction Promotion and Tenure Committee, will consist of four tenured full professors and one tenured associate professor from the Department, selected for three-year terms on a rotating basis. When appropriate, persons from the Department who are at other Penn State locations will be added to a candidate's review committee to assure that the University policy is followed.
    2. Once the Committee is set, each member will independently review the candidate's dossier and any related information developed by the candidate or requested by the Committee, and apply the Department criteria to those data.
    3. The Committee will then meet as a total group to discuss the evidence provided, apply the criteria to the evidence, and vote.
    4. When evidence for particular criteria appears to be incomplete, the Committee will attempt to determine, through the assistance of the Department Head, whether additional evidence or sources of clarification are available. The candidate will be informed of any factual changes and given the opportunity to re-review the dossier and sign off.
  7. Once the Faculty Review Committee has examined all the evidence and has reached a decision concerning tenure/promotion, they will forward their written recommendation to the Department Head.
    1. These recommendations will include statements concerning both the quality and quantity of the candidate's work. Consensus or majority/minority judgments and committee votes will be clearly noted.
    2. In situations where the Committee makes a positive evaluation, the written recommendations should identify specific evidence that the Committee believes give strong support to the candidate's case for tenure and/or promotion.
    3. In situations where the Committee makes a negative evaluation, the written recommendations should identify specific reasons why the Committee does not believe the candidate meets the criteria.
  8. Upon the receipt of the Faculty Review Committee's recommendations, the Department Head will complete an independent review of the candidate's materials. This review will include:
    1. reviewing the Faculty Committee's recommendations concerning the degree to which a candidate meets the Department criteria.
    2. making final written recommendations concerning each candidate's tenure and/or promotion.
  9. If the Department Head's recommendations or the Department Faculty Review Committee's recommendations or both are positive for promotion, the candidate's dossier of evidence plus the written recommendations of both the Committee and Department Head are forwarded to the Dean of the College of Education. Materials for sixth year tenure candidates are forwarded regardless of the nature of the Review Committee's or Department Head's recommendations to the Dean of the College.
  10. According to University policy, at the conclusion of the process, the general results of the evaluation will be made known to the faculty member by the appropriate academic office — in this Department that person is the Department Head. The Department Head should indicate the extent to which colleagues judged that his or her performance, in comparison with others in the profession, meets high academic performance. This evaluation should include guidance to the faculty member on ways to improve performance. A record of the communication to the faculty member shall be retained by the Department Head.

Part III: SRTE Administration Policy

While the Student Rating of Teaching Effectiveness (SRTE) forms were developed primarily for tenure and promotion decisions, its results can be used in making other performance evaluations (e.g., AC40, career conference). The recommended minimum schedule* for administration of the SRTE by tenure-line faculty is noted below. Note: the term "year" below means Fall, Spring, and Summer.

Results of SRTE administrations are to be shared with the Department Head at the annual career conference.

Part IV: Input from Advisees

Undergraduate Advising: Some candidates, but not all, engage with undergraduate students beyond normal teaching responsibilities. In the case of a candidate who advises or supervises undergraduate students, the candidate will be given the opportunity to consult with the Department Head to develop a way to represent this work in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning portion of the dossier.

Graduate Advising: The Department Head will use the results of the College of Education's online survey, consisting of a series of open-ended questions, as one source of evidence about graduate advising. A summary of results will be prepared by the Department Head for placement in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning portion of the dossier.

Accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 5/5/99; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 9/8/99; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 10/13/99; Editing change approved by C&I Promotion and Tenure Committee: 5/8/01; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 3/20/02; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 11/23/02; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 10/19/05; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 5/8/06; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 9/10/08; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I Faculty: 1/11/12: Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I faculty: 5/3/17; Revised and accepted by vote of the C&I faculty: 1/15/18.