In each application for tenure and promotion, faculty members must explain their activities in three performance areas: teaching and assigned responsibilities, service and professional development. While the faculty review committee does not permit people to count one activity in all three of these performance areas at the same time, it is possible to make an argument for including academic service learning (ASL) activities in any one of the three areas. For instance, in teaching and assigned responsibilities, a faculty member can use their ASL experiences to support a claim for quality instruction by discussing the creative nature of their teaching and the use of contemporary methods and approaches. Letters of support from community partners who have worked with the instructor in class would be a useful addition to a tenure document.
Academic service learning activities can be used to support evidence of service to the community, region or discipline. If designed well, an ASL project is a professional activity that employs the knowledge and skills of a given discipline to benefit others. Again, letters of support from clients or partners who have benefited from these efforts can be useful in bolstering this argument.
Likewise, ASL activity can be used in developing a case for quality performance in professional development. ASL projects may lead to papers, presentations or publications which contribute to any discipline. Research results from a class ASL project may result in presentations at professional or academic conferences, and/or publications in professional magazines or academic journals. It is also possible to present or publish about pedagogical approaches used to teach the content areas of a specific academic discipline. Successful publications and presentations are an essential part of professional development at Northern Michigan University.
To assure that academic service learning activities are successfully recognized throughout the tenure and promotion process, it may be necessary for each faculty member to consider how ASL fits into departmental bylaws, bring up a discussion at department meetings to make sure that ASL activities are properly recognized at the department level, and/or contact the Center for Student Enrichment for the names of faculty who have previously employed ASL experiences in their tenure and promotion material. As always, it is the responsibility of each applicant for tenure and promotion to carefully explain the activities in which he/she has been engaged and build a case for advancement that the various committees involved in the tenure and promotion process will understand.
“ASL has had a synergistic effect on my academic lifestyle. It interlinks teaching, service and professional development, and allows me to accomplish much more than if I tried to address each of the three areas separately. The interrelationship is often so seamless that it’s difficult to tell which area an activity falls under, which I thought might be a problem when it came to promotion and tenure. But the comments from faculty committees and administrators when I was promoted to full professor illustrate that they understand and appreciate the value of ASL.”
- Wally Niebauer, Communication and Performance Studies