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College of Education > Faculty and Staff Resources > Promotion & Tenure > College and Department Guidelines > Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education

Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education

Committee Review Procedures and

Criteria and Expectations for Promotion and Tenure


I.    Composition of the Department Committee

EPCSE’s Promotion and Tenure Review Committee is composed of five elected faculty members (see B2 below).

 A.  Composition of the Committee

1.  Faculty members who have tenure and hold the rank of Professor or Associate Professor in EPCSE are eligible to serve on the Committee.

2.  At least three members of the Committee must hold the rank of Professor.

3.  If possible, each of the five programs in EPCSE will have at least one representative on the Committee.

4.  For faculty members at non-University Park locations whose tenure or provisional tenure status is at a University Park college, at least one member of the review committee at both the department and college levels must be from a non-University Park location.

 B.  Selection of the Committee

1.  All five members of the Committee are elected by EPCSE tenure line faculty. Three must hold the rank of Professor. All eligible faculty members must be selected from the available list of candidates identified on the EPCSE ballot. Ballots are prepared to indicate program affiliation and rank of those eligible for election. There should be at least one faculty representative from each of the five programs (Counselor Education, Educational Psychology, Rehabilitation and Human Services, School Psychology, and Special Education). In the event that a program does not have a candidate eligible for selection, the faculty candidate with the highest number of votes once program representatives have been selected will be the representative for that program for a one-year period.

2. Each member will serve a two-year term; terms will be staggered. Thus, either two or three members will be elected to the Committee each year in order to ensure continuity. Elections will be held after the College appointments for the coming year.

3.  Only faculty of higher rank than the candidate shall make recommendations about promotion and/or tenure. If additional members at the rank of Professor are needed, they will be appointed by the Department Head based on the results of the P&T election. These “Elected Alternates” will be selected by the Department Head, with consideration given to creating balanced representation.

4. The Committee will convene within a reasonable period after all members have been identified and elect a Chairperson who will serve a one-year appointment.


II.  General Background

The Committee, consistent with AC-23 and its Administrative Guidelines and related documents, will review faculty being considered for promotion and/or tenure. While promotion and tenure recommendations are not the same, they have enough in common that the same set of criteria will be used for both.

It is the responsibility of the faculty member who is to be reviewed to provide the information required in the guidelines and on forms specified by the University administration to the Department Head. It is the responsibility of the Department Head to complete dossiers following the same guidelines and forms. Each faculty member should become acquainted with AC-21, AC-23 AND its Administrative Guidelines, AC-60, and other relevant materials as they are the guiding source for placement of information. Committee and candidates are supplied with these materials as well as Department criteria. Copies of these above mentioned rules and guidelines are located in the Department Head’s office or can be found in the College’s online resources.

 AC-21 Definition of Academic Ranks (

AC-23 Promotion and Tenure Procedures and Regulations  (

AC-23 Administrative Guidelines AC-60 Access to Personnel Files (


III. Principles for the Evaluation Review

A.  The Committee, being elected by its peers to serve a function, assumes they have been given a degree of trust and at least a modest vote of confidence that they will act fairly, impartially, and confidentially in making their judgments.


B.  Committee discussions and deliberations will be confidential.  Following the completion of the P&T process for a particular year, the candidate will have access to the entire dossier except for external letters.

 C.  The Committee is not inclined to state any prescribed numerical quantities for the categories under consideration (e.g., a given number of journal articles for promotion to a higher academic rank).

 D.  The evaluation will take into account the individual's overall work assignment, and the Committee will be aware of quantity as well as quality of teaching, advising, scholarly production, research, and service. The Committee will, in the end, evaluate the record as a whole while being cognizant of the areas of evaluation. An individual assignment may give greater emphasis to one or more areas. In evaluating a faculty member, the Committee will consider the faculty member’s performance relative to assignment, as well as unique circumstances that may affect research, teaching, and service missions.

 E.   The individual under review must be in compliance with University policies.

 F.   An individual's activity must contribute to the overall goals and needs of the Department. Although one may demonstrate outstanding achievement, it must be consistent with Program, Department, and College needs if it is to lead to a recommendation for promotion or for tenure.

G.  External and/or internal letters of assessment play a role in the Committee's deliberations. External letters are required for candidates being reviewed for sixth-year or early tenure, and for promotion. Dossiers shall include a minimum of four letters from external evaluators. The Dean of the College is responsible for obtaining the external letters of assessment.

 H.  External letters are NOT from the candidate’s former teachers, students, collaborators, or others who may have difficulty making objective assessments. These letters should be from individuals who are of higher rank than the candidate. Again, these external assessment letters are requested by the Dean of the College and NOT by the candidate.


I.   The following general minimum standards are recognized for academic rank promotions. (See AC-21 for additional criteria regarding academic ranks.)

1.   Promotion from Instructor to Assistant Professor requires the doctoral degree.

2.   Promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor with tenure requires a substantial record of productivity in research, teaching, and service. The potential for sustained professional activity and output should be evident.

3.   Promotion and tenure (if appropriate) from Associate Professor to Professor requires a significant professional record, recognition and activity documenting sustained scholarship at the national level, and Graduate Faculty membership. In addition, a consistent record of service and teaching must be evident, as well as evidence of potential for sustaining professional activity and output.


J.    When evaluating faculty, the Committee must use the prepared dossier dividers as outlined in the AC-23 Administrative Guidelines.

1.   The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Judgments are based on both student and faculty information about the quality of teaching. Scholarship is defined as ability to convey subject matter to students; demonstrated competency in teaching and capacity for growth and improvement; ability to maintain academic standards, and to stimulate the interests of students in the field; effectiveness of advising and service to students.

a.   Good teaching is evidenced by, but not limited to:

(1)     Clearly stated course objectives and scheduling of activities, classes met as scheduled, and effective use of class time

(2)     Well organized course outline and efficient presentation of material

(3)     Appropriate level of sophistication of presentation and appropriate mode of presentation

(4)     Effective communication of the subject and promotion of intellectual curiosity among students

(5)     Effective use of, or introduction of, related material

(6)     Clear statements of expected student performance and methods of grading all students objectively and fairly

(7)     Commitment to high academic standards

(8)     Adaptation of course content to be consistent with the needs of the overall curriculum, updating of course content, and integration of research findings and current professional practice into the content

(9)     Approachability and availability to students, including keeping adequate and regular office hours, interest in students' academic development and achievement, and adaptation to the needs of individual students

(10)   Use or generation of effective course syllabi, lab manuals, teaching aids, and reading lists; appropriate textbook selection; participation in new course and curriculum development

b.   Advising responsibilities—number and academic level of advisees, membership on student committees, and where applicable, academic advisor ratings should be used as evidence of advising.  Good advising is evidenced by, but not limited to indications that:

(1)     Advisees meet program requirements

(2)     Adviser’s knowledge about University policies and course offerings is accurate

(3)     Advisers stimulate and supervise student research as appropriate; membership on graduate student committees

c.    Student evaluations on SRTEs; written student comments; skills relating to clientele—other methods shall include either a summary of written student evaluations, and/or a summary of formal interviews with students at the end of the semester.

Frequency of reviews using SRTEs

Consistent with College guidelines relative to frequency of reviews the following principles apply (based upon cite for COE guidelines).

(1)     Where possible, evaluations should be conducted over a period of years and in a variety of courses.

(2)     For provisional faculty (i.e., tenure track faculty who do not yet have tenure), all sections of all courses shall be evaluated by the SRTE every time it is taught.  Results from each of these evaluations must be included in tenure or promotion dossiers.

(3)     For all other faculty, it is required that all sections of all courses shall be evaluated.

(4)     Faculty being reviewed for promotion, even when it is not coupled with a tenure review, should be able to demonstrate their teaching achievements in part through student evaluations that have been completed over time and in a variety of courses.

d.   Peer evaluation of teaching effectiveness (see page 7 of this document).

e.   Supervision of graduate papers/theses and exhibitions; quality of the work

f.    Membership on graduate degree candidates’ committees

g.   Committee member's knowledge of and impressions of the teacher's activities in the classroom and student advising

 2.   The Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments.  Usually demonstrated through publication, exhibition, performance, or presentation of scholarly papers to carry out research or creative work of high quality and scholarly significance. Evidence of scholarly significance can be provided by establishing the quality of the journals in which articles are published (see Appendix). Ability to train students in research methods and practice; evidence of thorough understanding of the field; maintenance of above adequate levels of academic performance; recognized reputation in the subject matter field; evidence of continued professional growth and active contribution to professional organizations. There should be evidence that the candidate is engaged in a continuing, systematic, and thematic program of research and publication. Although there is no formula for the nature of publications, there should be an emphasis on empirical work, which includes qualitative and/or quantitative research.  Conceptual or theoretical publications are also acceptable. It is anticipated that faculty-student research publications and/or professional presentations will be evident for faculty assigned to advise doctoral students. Efforts to secure external research and training grants, professional papers submitted at regional or national conferences, and editorial work on professional journals are other indicators.  Additional evidence of research and creative accomplishment includes:

a.   Graduate Faculty status

b.   Cumulative publication record (completed, accepted, submitted, in progress); evidence of a continuing flow of research or scholarly output; possible review by committee members. Listings of work IN PROGRESS should be eliminated from all tenure reviews beyond the fourth year and all promotion reviews beyond the assistant professor level or equivalent. Work accepted, submitted, or under contract should continue to be listed in all dossiers.

c.    Creative accomplishments—citations by other professionals or patents in lieu of professional publication

d.   Papers presented at technical/professional meetings. Effective execution of research projects, direction of research assistants and support personnel, and integration of students into the research effort as part of their education.

e.    Outreach scholarship or other activities that use the candidate’s professional expertise (consulting, speaking engagements, services to government agencies, professional and industrial associations [editorial work], educational institutions)

f.    Funded projects, grants, contracts—preparation of research proposals and conceptualization of meaningful and significant research projects or programs. Use of available resources (within and outside the University) in obtaining support for research efforts (awarded- fully processed financial award; Pending- submitted proposal that is awaiting funding status from sponsor; Not funded- notification received from sponsor or principal investigator that proposal was not funded [second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-year reviews only]). 

g.   Other evidence of research or creative accomplishments

h.   Membership in professional and learned societies

i.    Computer software programs developed

j.    Honors/awards for scholarship

 3.   Service and the Scholarship of Service to the University, Society, and the Profession. This is defined by evidence of participation in the University, College, Department, or Program affairs; competence in extending specialized knowledge to the University, the profession, and the public.  Service areas include:

a.   Record of committee participation (Campus, College, Department/Program, University)

b.   Participation in Campus and/or University-wide governance bodies

c.   Administrative support work—supervision and/or administration of academic, research, or clinical programs (may ask for comments from next higher supervisor or administrator)

d.   Record of contributions to the University’s programs to enhance equal opportunity and cultural diversity

e.   Outreach service as a representative of the University

          • participation in community affairs
          • service to governmental agencies at international, federal, state, local levels
          • service to business and industry
          • service to public/private organization

f.    Active participation in professional and learned societies—offices held, committee work, other responsibilities


K.  The Committee recommendation or comments regarding a faculty member's promotion and/or tenure is the first step in the process. Candidates should review the College P&T Guidelines for additional information on the process.





The purpose of a peer evaluation of teaching is to assist promotion and tenure review committees in their efforts to make reasoned judgments about a candidate’s effectiveness as a teacher. All teaching evaluations must be conducted by tenured faculty who are at least one academic rank higher than the faculty member being evaluated. Faculty who are having their promotion dossier reviewed, for example in the 2nd and 4th year and those eligible for promotion, should be evaluated by two faculty members. One of those faculty members should be in the applicant’s program and one should be outside their program. The teaching observations should be conducted either the year prior to the dossier review on during the year of the dossier review (as long as the written peer review meets the submission deadline). Both graduate and undergraduate courses should be reviewed at some point during the candidate’s provisional period if it is appropriate. Wherever possible, evaluators who served as either the internal or external peer reviewers for a candidate at the associate level should not be same individual at the professor level. In every instance, peer reviewers are expected to talk with students about the candidate’s courses.


Guidelines Adopted by EPCSE Faculty

I.    Each peer reviewer will write a brief (1-2 pages) report evaluating candidate’s teaching. Reviewers should be attentive to the following items in conducting their evaluation:  (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.


II.  Each reviewer should observe the candidate for a minimum of one regular class session (a minimum of 50 minutes), review printed material related to the course (e.g., syllabus, tests, handouts), and discuss the overall operation of the course with the candidate. It would be desirable (but not required) for each reviewer to evaluate a different course.


III. It is the candidate's responsibility to ascertain the willingness of a peer to review and evaluate the candidate's teaching. After ascertaining the willingness of an observer to serve as a faculty reviewer, the candidate will submit two faculty reviewer names with their academic rank and program affiliation to the Departmental P&T Chair for approval by the Department P&T Committee. After approval by the Committee, the Chair will then give the name to the Department Head, who will contact the peer reviewer.




Role of the Faculty Member in Preparation of the Dossier

1.   It is the responsibility of the faculty member to provide relevant, accurate, and organized information to the Department Head (AC Guidelines--section III.B.2).


2.   Each faculty member shall be provided an opportunity to review for accuracy and completeness the factual records and informational material contained in the dossier prior to the beginning of the review process. Faculty members shall not review those letters, recommendations, and other communications deemed confidential (AC Guidelines-section III.E.2; see section III.C.3).


3.   Faculty members may suggest names of up to three external evaluators to the Department Head for forwarding to the Dean (with their addresses, fax numbers, e-mail addresses, office phone numbers, websites, etc., together with a brief statement of their standing in the field), but in no case should the candidate solicit directly the external assessment letters.


Changes in the Informational Sections of the Dossier After the Review Process Has Begun

1.   The candidate is to be informed of factual changes so they may re-review their dossier and sign off. 


2.   All peer review committees and administrators who have completed their review of a candidate shall be informed about any factual changes that are made to the original materials in the dossier subsequent to their review.


3.   All peer review committees and administrators who are informed about factual changes, as described above, shall have the opportunity to reconsider their recommendation.


4.   The deadline for submitting factual changes or new information is a date in early Spring as specified in the University’s Promotion and Tenure schedule.


External Letters of Assessment

1.   External letters are required for candidates being reviewed for sixth-year or early tenure and for promotion.


2.   Dossiers shall include a minimum of four letters from external evaluators. Candidates may be asked to provide names and background information for potential letters of assessment. They should meet with the Department Head to discuss this list. This meeting must take place within the time frame needed to meet the deadlines specified by the Dean’s Office.


3.   The College Dean is responsible for obtaining external letters of assessment.


 4.   The process of obtaining external letters of assessment should begin far enough in advance of the review process that letters are in the dossier and available to peer review committees and administrators at all levels of review. If letters arrive after the review process has begun, individuals involved in those levels of review already completed shall be notified by the Dean of the receipt of the letters, provided with access to the letters, and provided with an opportunity to reconsider their recommendation.


5.   A log shall be inserted in the dossier to document:

a.  Date of request to external evaluator.

b.  Date of receipt of letter from external evaluator.

c.  Date of entry of letter in dossier.


6.   The log shall not be made available to the candidate at any time.


7.   The College Dean shall be responsible for providing a statement explaining the method by which the external evaluators were selected.


8.   The College Dean shall be responsible for providing a brief biographical statement about the qualifications of the external evaluator; special attention should be given to documenting the evaluator's standing in his/her discipline as part of the biographical statement.


9.   A copy of the letter requesting the external assessment shall be inserted in the dossier; the request should be for a critical assessment of the candidate's achievements and reputation within his/her discipline, with reference to the mission and assignment of the candidate. Requests should be for letters of assessment, not for letters of recommendation (see sample letter in AC Guidelines, Appendix C).

a.   If the same letter is sent to all external evaluators, one sample copy of the letter shall be inserted in the dossier; if different letters are used, a copy of each letter shall be inserted in the dossier.


10.   Deans are urged not to request external assessments from the candidate's former teachers and students, collaborators, or others who by their relationship to the candidate might have difficulty making objective assessments. External evaluators should be asked to describe the nature of their association with the candidate. Evaluators should be in a position to make informed judgments about the candidate’s work.


11.   Deans are urged to request external assessments from individuals who are of higher rank than the candidate. In general, it is inappropriate to request assessments from non-tenured assistant professors for candidates for tenure or promotion to associate professor, and so forth.



Addendum to EPCSE Department Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

Procedures to be Implemented for Faculty Jointly Funded by

the Child, Youth, and Family Consortium (CYFC)


For Department faculty jointly funded by the CYFC when it comes to Promotion and/or Tenure decisions, the Department Head needs to take an additional action. The Department Head should address in his or her letter for P&T reviews, the extent to which the jointly funded faculty show evidence of creation and maintenance of research, teaching, and service that contributes to the betterment of children, youth, and families as broadly outlined by the goals of the CYFC. The Department Head may base comments on letters submitted voluntarily by CYFC personnel as well as other sources of evidence. Such evidence will likely take different forms (e.g., publications or intervention programs), but the general expectation is that faculty endeavors would be broadly focused on building interdisciplinary teams to advance understandings in relation to the themes advanced by the CYFC. These themes are those reflected in the stated goals of the CYFC which include:

 1.  Promote interdisciplinary activities and the integration of research, outreach, and teaching.

 2. Support basic and applied research informing prevention and intervention.

 3. Understand and address factors that place children, youth, and families at risk for poor outcomes as well as promote well being.

 4. Promote the application of Penn State University resources to the benefit of society.

 Reminder--Upon completion of the entire review process, the dossier, except for the documents in the External Assessment section, may be reviewed and inspected by the candidate in accordance with AC60, “Access to Personnel Files.” Contact the HR representative in our Dean’s Office to make your arrangements.


A sample format is available at Dossier.htm. Plan ahead, especially if you need staff assistance—preparation of the dossier is a time consuming process.


Source: Administrative Guidelines for AC-23 Promotion and Tenure Procedures and Regulations

Approved by Department Faculty 10/14/11




A recommended method for providing information about publications.


 Information on Publications

JournalEmphasis# of ReadersPercent Research ArticlesReview ProcessPercent Accepted for Publication
Behavioral Interventions

Research and practice involving the utilization of behavioral techniques to problems of treatment, care and development.

3,000 80% 100% refereed 48%
Behavior and Social Issues Social problems and potential solutions from a behavior-based perspective 500 0% 90% refereed 60%
Education and Treatment of Children

Empirical, survey


professional issues

Practical application

1,000 75% 100% refereed 35%
European Journal of Behavior Analysis Basic and applied research examining the effects of behavioral techniques to all aspects of human behavior. 750 65% 100% refereed 43%