• Unintended consequences: The use of metrics in higher education

  • Is there a metric 
to evaluate tenure?

  • The abuses and perverse effects of quantitative evaluation in the academy

  • Dérives et effets pervers de l’évaluation quantitative de la recherche

  • Collecting data from students with students

  • Waking up to the reality of Canadian higher education

  • Understanding the United Kingdom’s Teaching Excellence Framework and its implications

Featured Articles

Unintended consequences: The use of metrics in higher education

Metrics are used throughout Ontario’s postsecondary education system—for determining university funding, judging institutional performance, and gauging student perceptions. But metrics are not always the best tool for evaluation, and often have unintended consequences. Measured scepticism Statistical measures, or “metrics” as we are now expected to call them, have become as extensive in higher education as […]

Is there a metric 
to evaluate tenure?

How much can data meaningfully inform decisions about tenure? If data only tell part of the story, perhaps faculty should be evaluated so that their different lived experiences are also taken into consideration. Tenure is one of the foundational concepts upon which Canada’s modern university system has been built. It is not without its issues, […]

The abuses and perverse effects of quantitative evaluation in the academy

The world of academic research is scored according to so-called “objective” measures, with an emphasis on publications and citations. But the very foundations of this approach are flawed. Is it time to abandon these simplistic ranking schemes? Since the neoliberal ideology of the “new public management” and its introduction of rankings in academia began in […]

Dérives et effets pervers de l’évaluation quantitative de la recherche

Les professeurs et les chercheurs universitaires sont de plus en plus évalués à l’aide de mesures dites « objectives », qui mettent l’accent sur les publications et les citations. Mais le fondement même de cette approche est problématique. Le temps est-il venu d’abandonner ces méthodes de notation simplistes? Avec l’arrivée en milieu universitaire de l’idéologie […]

Collecting data from students with students

Gathering data on university students can provide important information about how they interact with the postsecondary education system, but it is also important to consult students to determine what data are collected and how. A few years ago, I was part of an admissions committee that developed a short, voluntary survey for one of our […]

Waking up to the reality of Canadian higher education

Higher-education systems in Canada and the United Kingdom share much in common, but there are important differences that faculty on both sides of the Atlantic should appreciate. The UK experience can wake Canadian academics up to the urgency of resisting university corporatization and to the opportunities for resistance that remain. Wake up! That is the […]

Understanding the United Kingdom’s Teaching Excellence Framework and its implications

The UK’s new metrics-based teaching evaluation framework is methodologically and politically flawed. What will this mean for the country’s universities and faculty? In 2017, a new higher-education assessment system—known as the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) —was launched in the United Kingdom. Based heavily on metrics, the TEF seeks to “recognize and reward excellence in teaching […]

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Blog Posts

Editorial Matters: Alluring figures

There is an appealing simplicity in numbers. A number’s value is never ambiguous, even if its meaning can be. Numbers are specific and easily compared to one another. They allow us to measure the dimensions of an object or to describe the outcomes of a decision. There has long been a desire to use numbers […]

Congress 2017: Challenges to the integrity of academic hiring practices

During Congress 2017, a session on the Challenges to the Integrity of Academic Hiring Practices in the Corporate University encouraged participants to ask themselves some difficult questions about the value of Canadian training in sociology. After a long and intensive discussion, members of the Canadian Sociological Association passed a motion to research hiring trends in […]

Congress 2017: Ask Someone You Don’t Know About Something You Don’t Know

Above the Expo in a hallway, I found an art installation exhibit that, in a quiet and unassuming way, pulled together many of the overarching themes of Congress this year. Held May 27–June 2 in Toronto, Congress 2017 set out to push attendees to think about Canada’s past, while imagining what the next 150 years […]

Editorial Matters: The comforts of common sense

“Keep hold of a few plain truths, and make everything square with them. When I was young … there never was any question about right and wrong … Every respectable Church person had the same opinions. But now, if you speak out of the Prayer-book itself, you are liable to be contradicted.” Those are the […]

Are books ready for the dustbin of history?

Are books a condition of our labour? Do we need libraries with stacks and physical collections? Recent discussions within libraries across the country have highlighted faculty anxiety and displeasure with the fate of university libraries, as cuts are made to purchasing and operating budgets, collections culled, and the very nature of acquisitions transformed by changes […]

Can Collegiality Be Negotiated? University Governance and Collective Bargaining

After a marathon bargaining session that stretched into the pre-dawn hours of November 26, 2015 the Nipissing University Faculty Association (NUFA) reached a tentative deal with its employer that ended a twenty-five-day strike, the first ever for faculty at this small, northern Ontario University. The issue that galvanized the approximately 170 tenure-stream faculty members to […]

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