Feedback: The Cornerstone of Academic Civility

In her 2000 American Association of Higher Education publication, Mary Deane Sorcinelli urges deans, department chairs, and other academic leaders to “provide clear, honest, and constructive feedback to early-career faculty on their progress toward tenure” (p. 8). If faculty are not receiving this kind of feedback, they may very well assume they are on target for promotion and tenure when, in fact, they are not. Many faculty members and administrators have either overlooked underperformance, hoping it will get better, or, worse, encouraged it by giving vague and overly optimistic feedback such as “you’re doing fine” or “people really like you.” Feedback must be honest, clear, and specific in order to promote self-reflection and professional development.

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