In This Issue

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 […]

University funding in Ontario and the implications of the new performance-based funding model, a discussion

This past spring, faculty from across Ontario gathered in Toronto for the OCUFA Policy Exchange. The conference was organized to help set the groundwork for OCUFA’s policy platform in the lead-up to the 2018 Ontario provincial election. As part of the conference, Glenn Craney, the Assistant Deputy Minister overseeing the Postsecondary Education Division of Ontario’s […]

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 […]