Performance Review Regulations and Procedures for Faculty


The performance review has four basic purposes:

  1. to permit the faculty member and his/her administrative colleagues to review previous goals and activities and to plan for the future
  2. to provide for general communication and understanding between the faculty member and his/her administrative colleagues
  3. to provide a consistent basis across the Faculty for salary evaluation and for judgments on promotion and tenure
  4. to encourage the faculty member and the university to achieve the highest possible standards in teaching, scholarship and service.

The overall intent of this system is to arrive at a fair, comprehensive and effective review of the performance of faculty members. This will be done in terms of the three areas that comprise faculty members’ work: 1) teaching, 2) scholarship, and 3) service.

This document provides guidelines on the types of information to be included in the performance review. It is consistent with the Memorandum of Agreement and Policy 77.

Basic Principles

Faculty performance reviews in the Faculty of Environment will have regard for the following general principles.

  • Judgments regarding a faculty member’s teaching, scholarship and service will respect the diverse ways in which these activities may be undertaken in the Faculty of Environment.
  • The rank of the faculty member being evaluated will be taken into account during decision making. For example, expectations regarding scholarly output will be adjusted to distinguish between Full Professors, Associate Professors and probationary faculty.
  • Judgments regarding a faculty member’s teaching, scholarship, and service will be based on tangible evidence contained in the performance evaluation documents. The onus is on the faculty member to provide that evidence.
  • Individual units are in the best position to understand the norms and expectations pertinent to their faculty members.
  • The evaluation system will be open and transparent. Sufficient feedback will be provided to faculty members after each performance evaluation, and during critical points such as the years leading to the application for tenure and promotion, to permit them to understand the judgments that have been made about their performance.

Specific principles relating to the performance evaluation process, and to the evaluation of teaching, scholarship and service, are noted below.

Process Considerations

Evaluation Period

A review is necessary for all regular faculty members (Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor) on full-time, part-time (≥ 50%), reduced load, and joint appointments.

Probationary appointments and those on definite-term contracts will be evaluated annually; tenured faculty and continuing lecturers will be evaluated every two years. The schedule below explains the pattern.

Sample years:

Year during which the review process is completed

Tenure-track and definite term faculty

Tenured faculty and continuing lecturers

Evaluation period for teaching and service

Evaluation period for scholarship

Evaluation period for teaching and service

Evaluation period for scholarship



2017 & 2018

2017 & 2018

2017 & 2018



2018 & 2019





2019 & 2020

2019 & 2020

2019 & 2020



2020 & 2021





2021 & 2022

2021 & 2022

2021 & 2022

Even-numbered years during which the review is completed: evaluation of tenure-track and definite-term faculty, covering teaching and service for the previous year and scholarship for the previous two years.

Odd-numbered years during which the review is completed: evaluations of tenure-track and definite-term faculty covering teaching and service for the previous year and scholarship for the previous two years; evaluation of tenured faculty and continuing lecturers covering teaching, service and scholarship for the previous two years.

Policies and guidelines

Performance evaluations are conducted according to the following documents:

  • University Policy 77
  • The Memorandum of Agreement between the University and the Faculty Association
  • Faculty of Environment Performance Review Regulations and Procedures (this document). These procedures shall be reviewed and updated no less than once every five years, and approved by a majority vote of the Faculty Council no later than 15 October in the year to which the changes would apply
  • Department or school (unit) policies approved by a majority of the faculty in those units and the Dean. These policies shall be reviewed and updated biennially no later than 15 October in the year before the evaluation calendar year(s) to which the changes apply
  • Current versions of Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines and Departmental policies
  • A performance evaluation template supplied by the Faculty of Environment that will be used by faculty members to report on their teaching, scholarship, and service

Prior to the commencement of the period to be evaluated, faculty members should review each of these documents. Units must ensure that any supplementary policies they have created are consistent with Faculty and University policies, and have been made available to faculty members. At the same time, the Dean will ensure consistency among unit supplementary policies where that is appropriate. For instance, faculty members in different units who are operating within the same basic disciplinary conventions should be treated similarly even though they are in different units.

Performance Evaluation Committee

A Performance Evaluation Committee (PEC) that advises the Chair or Director will be struck in units with 15 or more faculty members who hold appointments of at least 51 percent in that unit. However, smaller units (14 or fewer members) may elect by majority vote to have the performance evaluation conducted only by the Chair or Director. Alternatively, two or more smaller units may elect by majority vote in each unit to form a multi-unit PEC to advise the respective Chairs/Directors. Units are responsible for defining the composition of the PEC in their supplementary material.

In the remainder of this document, “PEC” is used to describe situations where a multi-member committee exists, in contrast to cases where the Chair/Director acts alone. Additionally, statements regarding performance expectations and matters that should be considered by PECs apply equally to the Faculty Performance Review Committee and the Dean.

Performance Evaluation Template

A common performance evaluation template will be used by all faculty in the Faculty of Environment. General guidance regarding the information that should be included in the template is provided in this document and in the document, Instructions for Completing the Faculty Performance Evaluation Form. Units will offer supplementary guidance for completing the Faculty of Environment’s performance evaluation template in their own approved documents.

Rating Scale

Faculty members will be evaluated in the three areas of teaching, scholarship and service using a rating scale that ranges from 0.0 (unsatisfactory) to 2.0 (outstanding) in increments of 0.25. This scale is based on Article 13 of the Memorandum of Agreement.

To ensure consistency in expectations and ratings across the Faculty, it may be necessary to make adjustments at the Faculty level to evaluations conducted by PECs at the unit level. The Faculty Performance Review Committee is responsible for adjusting evaluation scores across the Faculty once unit-level evaluations have been completed.

A faculty member’s overall performance score is calculated by weighting the individual scores for scholarship, teaching and service according to the faculty member’s normal weight for these areas, or according to his or her adjusted weight for that evaluation period. Evaluation forms prepared by faculty members will indicate the faculty member’s weights for teaching, scholarship and service.

In the Faculty of Environment, the normal weights for teaching, scholarship and service for Assistant, Associate and Full Professors are 40%, 40% and 20%, respectively; and for Lecturers are 80%, 0% and 20%. Changes to the normal weights may result from a variety of circumstances, including holding a research chair, course buyouts from research funds, reduced teaching loads due to holding administrative positions, or leaves during the evaluation period (including sabbatical leaves, parental leaves, and sick leaves). Importantly, a change in a faculty member’s weighting has implications only for the quantity of work in that area, not its quality. Adjusted weights reported on the evaluation form must be approved by the unit’s Chair/Director through a written, formal agreement with the faculty member, and must be approved by the Dean of the Faculty. This agreement normally must be established prior to the evaluation period. However, it is understood that in some cases this may not be possible (e.g., a faculty member becomes ill or is asked to take on an unexpected administrative duty). Provisions in Article 13 of the Memorandum of Agreement may apply in some cases (e.g., in relation to leaves).

Where a pattern of performance ratings of less than 1.0 in one or more areas gives the faculty member, Chair/Director, or Dean cause for concern, a review process will be implemented by the Dean, which, in the first instance, will stress the development of a plan for improvement arrived at by the faculty member, Chair/Director and the Dean. Such a review is required if a faculty member’s overall rating is less than 1.0 in any given evaluation period.

New faculty may start their careers mid-way within the evaluation period. Scores for new faculty will be assigned based on actual performance during the entire evaluation period. When too little information is available for a particular area, a score equal to the unit’s average for that rank will be assigned.


Histograms showing the score distributions shall be distributed consistent with item 13.5.11 of the Memorandum of Agreement.

Standards and Criteria for Evaluating Teaching, Scholarship and Service

General standards and criteria for the evaluation teaching, service and scholarship of faculty members at the University of Waterloo are contained in Policy 77 and the Memorandum of Agreement. The information presented in this document provides detailed guidance to faculty members designed to help them complete their evaluation forms effectively, and provides guidance to PECs.


The Faculty of Environment adopts a broad view of scholarship. Research typically is an important part of a faculty member’s scholarship. However, in the Faculty of Environment scholarship also includes reflective and critical inquiry where this is communicated in publications and other media, professional outreach and engagement, and innovative design.

Scholarship will be judged primarily on the basis of outputs such as publications, exhibitions, awards, research funds, and other tangible manifestations of scholarly activity and creativity during the two-year scholarship evaluation window. As a result, during each annual review, the Performance Evaluation Committee will consider scholarship produced during the current and previous years. The Committee will take a holistic approach, placing equal weight on scholarship produced during both years of the two-year scholarship evaluation window.

In light of the fact that views on scholarship vary among disciplines and units, no single model of scholarship will be followed in evaluating faculty members’ performance. This section provides a common foundation for the Faculty. Units are expected to provide guidance on issues such as the relative balance between innovative design and peer-reviewed publication, and expectations regarding the quantity and quality of scholarly output relative to rank.

Joint Versus Individual Scholarship

Faculty members may legitimately pursue their scholarship on an individual basis, or in collaboration with others. Joint research is encouraged, especially where it contributes to student education; hence, attempts should be made to encourage publication of good thesis work. However, a faculty member’s preference for solo-scholarship will not be viewed negatively. PECs are expected to account for the fact that volumes of scholarly output tend to be higher among faculty embedded in large teams and networks than among faculty who work alone. For all co-authored publications, estimated % contribution by the faculty member under review should be stated.

Importance of Funding

The Faculty of Environment benefits significantly from the collective success of its faculty members in competitions for funds, especially in Tri-Council programs. Thus, it is expected that faculty with research programs will be active in pursuit of research funding and other support for their work. Different kinds of scholarship demand varying amounts of funding. This implies that the number of grants/contracts received in a year and the dollar value of funds secured by themselves will not by themselves be viewed as indicators of scholarly activity or quality. Factors that PECs should take into consideration in weighing the contribution of funding to a faculty member’s scholarship rating include the following:

  • Extent to which research funds are used to support highly qualified personnel at the University of Waterloo in the first instance (e.g., undergraduate thesis students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research technicians), the publication of scholarly work, innovative design, or other scholarly activities;
  • Whether or not funds were secured through a competitive process that included refereeing by external experts;
  • Faculty member’s role on funded projects, e.g., principal investigator versus one of several co-investigators; and,
  • Proportion of total value of a grant held by the faculty member.

As part of their work faculty may engage in contract research for governments, industry and non-government organizations. Contract research can occur through a variety of mechanisms, including through the University, or through a private consultancy. In deciding whether or not contract work should be counted in evaluating a faculty member’s scholarship, PECs should not be concerned with the manner in which the funds were administered. Instead, emphasis should be placed on the extent to which the contract work supported conceptual or innovative work that comprises scholarship. For example, contracts used to undertake activities that do not involve significant creativity, and which do not result in graduate training or scholarly publications, normally would not be considered in evaluating a faculty member’s scholarship. Where appropriate, such activities could be considered under the category of service.

Considerations such as these should permit evaluators to make appropriate judgments about the importance of funding in the evaluation of a faculty member’s scholarship. As is the case in all aspects of the evaluation process, the onus is on faculty member to clarify the extent to which funding should contribute to their evaluation for scholarship.


Supervision of students (undergraduate and graduate) and post-doctoral fellows may be part of a faculty member’s research activity. Nonetheless, the quantity and quality of supervision are considered teaching rather than scholarship for the purposes of performance appraisal. Outputs of supervision, such as publications, are counted as scholarship.

Evaluating the Quality and Quantity of Publications, Outreach and Engagement and Innovative Designs

Judgments about the quantity of scholarship and its quality should reflect the rank of the faculty member. For instance, where two sole-authored, refereed journal articles published in one year may be an excellent accomplishment for a new faculty member, this level of scholarly output might be considered normal for a senior scholar.

Disciplinary norms should be taken into account. This is illustrated in the case of authorship: the importance of the number of authors on a publication, and their position in the list of authors, varies significantly by discipline. Indigenous scholars and scholars involved in Indigenous research may choose to be evaluated in a manner consistent with SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research.

This document does not propose an algorithm that can be used to make these judgments. Instead, units are expected to have clear expectations that are made known to faculty members, and are applied fairly and transparently during performance evaluations. Units that have specific expectations must document them and make them available not only to faculty members, but also to the members of the Faculty Performance Review Committee.

In the case of publications, only items published or accepted for publication during the scholarship evaluation window will be considered. An item is considered “accepted for publication” during the scholarship evaluation window when the publisher has indicated formally that required changes have been made, that no further substantive changes are required and that publication will occur. Given the two-year window for scholarship assessment, publications should only be considered for two consecutive evaluation years.

General guidance on the relative importance that will be assigned to different kinds of scholarly outputs is provided below. In considering the relative significance of different tangible manifestations of scholarly activity, PECs must exercise their judgment, and faculty members must provide information that permits PECs to make fair and appropriate decisions. Ultimately, the onus is on the faculty member to organize scholarly outputs appropriately (see below), and to explain their significance and impact.

The significance of some kinds of tangible scholarly outputs can be difficult to evaluate and may not be apparent for some years. Hence, stress is placed on the process of peer review. In terms of publications, refereed works of all types generally will be given greater emphasis than non-refereed works. A refereed publication is defined as one where (1) third parties with the necessary expertise have evaluated the scholarly merits of the work – openly or anonymously – and have then recommended whether or not it should be published, and (2) publication of the work was contingent on the author(s) responding appropriately to the comments of the referees, with an editor or other third-party acting as judge.

Conferences that require abstracts to be pre-screened but don’t require authors to respond to referee comments, would not normally be considered “refereed”.

In evaluating publications, the most emphasis should be placed on refereed publications such as the following:

  • Articles in journals – where journals with international or national stature will receive more emphasis than those in local or regional journals
  • Books and monographs by recognized, reputable publishers –publishers with international or national stature will receive more emphasis than those with local or regional stature
  • Chapters (including appropriate editorial writing) in edited books or monographs by recognized publishers
  • Papers in conference proceedings; the stature of the conference will be considered (e.g., international versus local)
  • Other refereed publications with special significance, e.g., reports to government agencies or other groups

Less emphasis should be placed on other kinds of publications including refereed extended abstracts and non-refereed publications such as the following:

  • Books and monographs published by local or regional publishers
  • Articles in magazines or journals of criticism having substantial intellectual stature
  • Chapters (including appropriate editorial writing); those by recognized publishers will be given more emphasis
  • Papers in conference proceedings; the significance of the conference will be considered
  • Presentations at academic and professional conferences; the significance of the conference will be taken into account, as will the nature of the presentation (e.g., an invited keynote presentation at a major international conference versus a presentation at a seminar)
  • Applied publications and general agency reports that make scholarly contributions
  • Book reviews
  • Other publications (e.g., maps or atlases)

Articles in the mass media or trade journals will generally not be accorded the stature of the foregoing kinds of publications. Publications for contract research that do not involve scholarship also will not be counted in the evaluation of a faculty member’s scholarship.

In terms of the evaluation of design, more emphasis should be placed on design in the form of the following:

  • exhibitions of national or international stature
  • design work, art, planning, computer programs, patents, and related innovative work of national or international stature.
  • national or international awards for design, planning, buildings, etc.
  • films, film scripts and comparable work of a national or international stature

Less emphasis should be placed on design scholarship in the form of the following:

  • exhibitions of regional stature
  • design work, art, planning, computer programs, patents and related innovative work judged of lesser significance
  • regional awards for design, planning, building, etc.
  • films, film scripts and comparable work of regional stature

It can be difficult for PECs to recognize the significance/impact of scholarly contributions. Therefore, the onus is on faculty members to provide a complete overview of their scholarly contributions, along with evidence of their relative importance, impact and quality.


Several key principles underlie the evaluation of teaching in the Faculty of Environment:

  • A faculty member’s teaching will be evaluated based on the quantity of work involved (i.e., the “workload”), quality of instruction, student advising and other contributions to learning.
  • A normal teaching workload in the Faculty of Environment is one teaching task (e.g., a 0.5 credit course) for each 10% of the faculty member’s distribution of effort for teaching.
  • Workload should be a contributing factor in the evaluation of teaching, but workload alone should not be the sole determinant of a faculty member’s score for teaching.
  • Where research-focused graduate programs exist in a unit, graduate student supervision or involvement in graduate student committees is expected. In all units, supervision of undergraduate theses or capstone projects is encouraged and is included as teaching.
  • The teaching score considers both course instruction and the supervision of graduate and undergraduate student theses and projects. For tenured and non-tenure-steam faculty members, approximately two-thirds of weighting shall be given to course instruction and one-third to student research supervision. For lecturers and continuing lecturers, the emphasis shall be primarily on course instruction.

Considerations that determine whether or not a faculty member’s teaching workload during the evaluation period should be considered “normal” may include the following:

  • Number of courses taught
  • Number and type of students supervised (e.g., professional Master’s versus research Master’s; graduate students versus undergraduate students).
  • Whether or not the course has been taught previously by the faculty member.
  • Class size and amount of support from teaching assistants.
  • Number of instructors per course (i.e., team-taught versus sole instructor).

Evaluating the quality of teaching is considerably more difficult than evaluating whether or not the teaching load was normal. Student perception surveys provide valuable information that can be used in evaluations; a standard course evaluation form will be used by all units in the Faculty of Environment.

The quality of a faculty member’s teaching should never be determined solely based on scores from student perception surveys. PECs should also take account of other measures of quality that can be documented by faculty members on their activity reports. Examples may include the following:

  • Commitment to continuous improvement in the context of classroom teaching, e.g., through participation in training sessions, and through ongoing revision of course materials to ensure their relevance and currency.
  • Innovation and creativity in the design and delivery of curriculum.
  • Evidence of the quality of graduate and undergraduate supervision (e.g., publications from student work, employment received as a result of student projects).

This document does not spell out all the possible considerations that determine whether or not a faculty member’s teaching load is “normal”, or his or her teaching is of good quality. Therefore, the onus is on each unit to define the workload associated with a “normal” teaching load and to set specific expectations for quality in a collegial fashion. Simultaneously, the onus is on faculty members to provide information needed so that PECs can fairly evaluate their contributions to teaching.


Service is considered to be a key part of a faculty member’s work in the Faculty of Environment. The category of service is defined broadly to include administrative and committee duties, sharing and support with regard to the teaching and scholarly activities of colleagues, and service to the unit, the Faculty, the University, the profession, and the community.

Key principles that underlie the evaluation of service in the Faculty of Environment include the following:

  • Internal service is an essential duty. All faculty members are expected to contribute significantly to one or more of their units, the Faculty, or the University; in smaller units, faculty members must contribute service to the unit. In this vein, attendance at departmental meetings is an expectation, except where scheduled teaching commitments preclude this. Normally, faculty members who have not reported an appropriate amount and quality of internal service relating to activities and functions identified by their units as important to the functioning of the unit will receive an evaluation of below 1.0 for service.
  • Good citizenship will be recognized in the evaluation of service. Examples of good citizenship include (but are not limited to) mentoring new faculty, being available in the unit (to colleagues and to students), and being willing to take on difficult courses.
  • Service to professional and scholarly organizations, the community, etc. is considered highly desirable and will be recognized during the evaluation process.
  • The quality of service must be considered alongside the workload.
  • Expectations regarding service will vary depending on rank, and should be accounted for during the evaluation.
  • Chairs/Directors must discuss expectations for service with faculty members on a regular basis, preferably annually.

The following broad guidelines are meant to help faculty members and PECs decide whether or not an activity should be counted towards the evaluation of service:

  • Certain activities are part of the normal duty of a faculty member at the University of Waterloo. These include attendance at unit faculty meetings, completing reference letters for students, participating in Convocation, being a member of a professional organization, holding cross-appointments with other units, and offering advice to students. The absence of these activities suggests a problem relating to good citizenship.
  • Holding a major administrative position that has resulted in an adjustment to a faculty member’s weighting should not necessarily lead to a higher evaluation of service; the adjusted weighting should capture the additional workload. Where the weighting has not been adjusted, the additional workload associated with holding a major administrative position should be acknowledged.
  • External activities for which a faculty member has been paid are not service. For example, a faculty member who has been paid to provide professional advice to an agency should not count that activity as service.

Evaluation of service requires clear guidelines and adequate information. Therefore, the onus is on units to define specific expectations, especially regarding internal service to the unit. At the same time, the onus is on the faculty member to describe the nature and scope of their service contributions to permit proper evaluation.

Approved by Faculty Council September 2021

Relevant forms and files: