department menu

Retention, Tenure and Promotion (RTP) Standards - Department of Psychology | Policies | CSUSM

Retention, Tenure and Promotion (RTP) Standards - Department of Psychology

Definition: A policy for the evaluation of tenure track faculty within the Psychology Department.
Authority: CSU/CFA Unit 3 Collective Bargaining Agreement
Scope: Tenure Track Faculty within the Psychology Department
Responsible Division: Academic Affairs
Approval Date: 06/25/2014
Originally Implemented: 07/24/2014
Signature Page/PDF: View Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) Standards - Department of Psychology Policy



I.  Introduction and Overview  (2)
II.  Teaching  (2)
   A.  Overview  (2)
   B.  Reflective statement  (3)
   C.  Sources of evidence for teaching effectiveness  (4)

III.  Research/Creative Activity  (5)
   B.  Overview  (5)
   C.  Criteria for demonstrating effective scholarship: major and additional achievements (5)
   D.  Examples of evidence documenting Research/Creative Activity  can be found in the CHABSS and University RTP policies (6)

IV.  Service (6)
   A.  Overview  (6)
   B.  Impact of service (6)
   C.  Levels of service (6)
   D.  Examples of evidence documenting Service can be found in the CHABSS and University RTP policies  (9)

V.  Departmental expectations at Performance and Periodic Reviews (9)
   A.  Expectations for retention of probationary faculty  (9)
   B.  Expectations for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor  (9)
   C.  Expectations for promotion to Full Professor  (10)
   D.  Expectations for post tenure periodic review after promotion to Full Professsor (10)
   E.  Expectations for faculty hired with service credit (10)


  This document elaborates on the CSUSM Faculty Personnel Policies and Procedures for Retention, Tenure, and Promotion and the CHABSS College Standards and Procedures for Retention, Tenure, and Promotion. It provides guidance to faculty members concerning the Psychology Department's expectations, and it guides review committees in recommendations related to retention, promotion, and tenure.  In addition, it is intended to encourage faculty members to think carefully about how they can best contribute to the mission of the university and the Department throughout their careers.  Faculty are encouraged to seek advice and assistance from more senior colleagues regarding ways to meet these expectations. 

  The Department expects the WPAF to demonstrate active engagement of the faculty member in his/her role as a university professor. This may be shown in a variety of ways, depending upon the interests and strengths of the faculty member, the faculty member’s rank and experience, and the needs of the Department, University, and community. However, each faculty member is expected to be actively engaged in each of the three RTP evaluation areas. Of particular importance are the required self-reflection statements that must be included for all three areas of evaluation.

  Some activities cut across categories.  For example, supervising student research and theses and co-conducting research with students may represent teaching, service, and scholarly activity.  In accordance with the University’s RTP Document, each activity must be assigned to only one category. However, the faculty member is encouraged to demonstrate the activities' relevance to multiple criteria in their reflective statement.

  At every review,  probationary faculty in tenure-track lines should be able to clearly demonstrate their progress toward the standards for tenure and promotion, as described below. Additionally, faculty are expected to respond explicitly to advice offered in the most recent prior review when  submitting the file for subsequent evaluations.


A.  Overview 
Effective teaching is indispensable for retention, promotion, and tenure.  While the number of courses offered by a faculty member in a given semester may vary, all faculty are expected to teach courses on a regular basis and to teach courses that serve the needs of the Psychology Department.  Faculty are also expected to teach students outside of the classroom by serving on and chairing thesis committees and supervising students in independent study and/or independent research.
     Effective teaching is multifaceted.  Some of the practices and attributes that characterize effective college teaching include the possession and continuing development of discipline-specific and pedagogical knowledge; the use of varied instructional techniques; the planning, implementing, assessing, and revising of learning interventions to achieve learning objectives; and the reflection on feedback from students.

B.  Reflective statement
    The teaching section of the WPAF centers on the reflective statement.  In that statement, the faculty member should tell his or her “teaching story,” and then directly support the points made in the story with items that provide evidence of teaching effectiveness.  The reflective statement should begin with a brief description of  teaching philosophy.  The form the reflective statement takes will vary by faculty member, but each of the three aspects of teaching effectiveness described below must be addressed.  In addition, issues raised at any level of the most recent prior review must be addressed. Changes made in response to feedback given in prior reviews should be documented or, if the faculty has chosen not to make suggested changes, an explanation should be given.

i.  Instructional methods: the faculty member is expected to:
      a.  Effectively employ a variety of instructional methods such as lecture/discussion, active or collaborative learning,  Socratic method, etc.; 
      b.  Have an appropriate level of technological competence; 
      c.  Be sensitive to diverse needs of students;
      d.  Provide prompt, constructive feedback to students;
      e.  Listen carefully and communicate respectfully with students.

ii.  Course content: the faculty member’s courses are expected to:
      a.  Reflect the scientific foundation of psychology;
      b.  Have learning goals that appropriately reflect a diversity of perspectives and breadth of content;
      c.  Promote the development of basic skills such as clear writing, critical thinking, information literacy, collaboration with peers, and articulate oral and written communication;
      d.  Incorporate ethical and diversity issues (where appropriate);
      e.  Include exams and assignments that require students to spend 2 additional hours on course-related work for every hour spent in class;
      f.   Result in fair but rigorous grading of students in accordance with the definitions of letter grades provided in the University Catalog.

iii. Assessment: the faculty member is expected to:
     a.  Have established specific, measurable learning outcomes;  
     b.  Align evaluation of learning with learning outcomes;
     c.  Assess those learning outcomes;
     d.  Utilize the results of assessment to improve teaching and learning.

C.  Sources of evidence for teaching effectiveness
    There are many ways by which a faculty member can demonstrate that s/he is an effective teacher.  In all cases, items included in the WPAF should directly relate to points made in the reflective statement, and should be discussed in terms of how they demonstrate teaching effectiveness.  Three required sources of evidence must be included in the WPAF and will be used to assess teaching effectiveness across categories. The required sources listed in Section 1 below are necessary but not sufficient to demonstrate teaching effectiveness, and must be supplemented with additional evidence, exemplified by the types of evidence suggested in Section 2 below.

i.  Required evidence
a.  University administered student evaluations of teaching are required for all faculty but do not count as part of the 30 item limitation. We recognize that student evaluations will vary across faculty and course as a function of course type,  course difficulty, teaching style, and other variables that may or may not be reflected in the evaluations themselves. Therefore, student evaluations will always be viewed in the context of multiple sources of evidence of teaching effectiveness. However, the Psychology Department standard is that the mean scores on  student evaluation items will be in the 4 to 5 (good to excellent) range and not be consistently and substantially lower than the mean scores for similar courses.  Instances in which course evaluations are low should be discussed in the reflective statement.

b.  Peer evaluation. During the probationary period leading up to tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, faculty will be observed in the classroom by a peer at least three times (for the 2nd, 4th, and 6th year reviews); additional classroom observations may be conducted at the request of the those being reviewed.  Following a minimum of five days notice to the Candidate, the observations will be conducted by a tenured faculty member in the Psychology Department, using the department’s Observable Teaching Behaviors Inventory.  Each observation shall be followed by consultation between the Candidate and the reviewer and subsequently will result in a  written report that will be included in the WPAF.  For promotion from Associate to Full Professor, one peer observation is required. The Department expects that problems noted in the reports will be addressed by the faculty member such that improvements are seen over time.  This report shall count toward the 30 item limitation.

c.  Course syllabi.  Syllabi are expected to provide essential course material (schedules, assignments, grading policies, performance expectations, etc.) and should reflect the extent to which the faculty member has identifed and given thoughtful consideration to the student learning outcomes of each course. Assignments, activities, and methods for evaluating student learning should be consistent with those outcomes.

ii.  Examples of additional evidence:  In order to demonstrate teaching effectiveness, evidence beyond the required elements described above must be discussed and included in the WPAF.  Examples of such evidence include, but are not limited to:
a. Teaching awards;
b. Samples of graded assignments, papers, and/or exams (with student name removed);
c.  Samples of assignments and activities;
d. Examples of assessment techniques;
e. Lecture outlines;
f.  PowerPoint slide sequences;
g. Additional classroom observations;
h. Effective use of guest speakers, videos, etc.
i.  Examples of changes made in pedagogy based on feedback, assessment, additional training, etc.;
j.  Participation in teaching-related workshops with evidence of how the new information was used in teaching;
k. Student feedback other than in course evaluations;
l.  Examples of technological competence.


A.  Overview
     In the realm of scholarship, the Department holds three primary expectations of its faculty at all ranks: 1) a clear research agenda leading to 2) sustained, effective scholarly effort and 3) public contributions to Psychology as a scientific discipline. The Department particularly values scholarly activity in which students play a meaningful role in the conception, conduct, analysis, interpretation, and final reporting of the scholarly effort. The faculty member under review is encouraged to provide information regarding the role that students play in their scholarly endeavors. In each case it is the responsibility of the faculty member to provide evidence of the nature of his or her contribution and the quality of the completed work.

B.  Criteria for demonstrating effective scholarship: major and additional achievements

i.  Major scholarly achievements include:
    a)  Peer reviewed journal articles on which the faculty member’s contribution was substantial (e.g., lead author or senior author or co-author with a student the faculy member directly supervised), and which are published (or accepted for publication) in well-respected academic journals.
    b)  Book chapters published (or accepted for publication) on which the candidate’s contribution was substantial (e.g., lead author or senior author), which is an original work, and which had the possibility of being rejected.
    c)  Scholarly book authored or edited by the faculty member.
    d)  Successful externally funded major grant. Normally, this would be grants from federal agencies, such as National Institute of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), etc.; however. substantial grants from nationally recognized private foundations may also be included.

We recognize that other items may be considered major scholarly achievements. In these cases it is expected that the faculty member will provide evidence and arguments that make the case that an item belongs in this category. Evidence of the quality of a journal may be demonstrated, for example, by published rejection rates or impact factors. We suggest that the faculty member consult with senior faculty if there are questions about the most appropriate category for an item.   

ii.  Additional scholarly achievements: There are a number of other products that are considered evidence of additional scholarly activity. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    a.  External grant proposals (approved, but not necessarily funded)
    b.  Internal grants or small external grants;
    c.  Book chapters, books, conference presentations, invited addresses, and journal articles that do not meet the criteria set forth under major scholary achievements (for example, more minor contributions, articles or chapters on which the candidate is a junior author).

C.  Examples of evidence documenting Research/Creative Activity can be found in the CHABSS and University RTP policies

A.  Overview
The faculty of the Psychology Department  have a rich tradition of service given to the Department, College, University, and broader communities. Our department has functioned very well since its inception because faculty have taken service obligations very seriously. Consequently, service activities are highly valued and are an essential component of retention, tenure and promotion evaluations. In addition, to routine service that is required by each tenure line faculty member, we expect that all faculty will participate in additional service that is impactful and meaningful. The extent to which we have this expectation varies with rank, as described below.

B.  Impact of service
Documentation of service should be accompanied by a narrative of the impact of the service on the Department, College, University, community, or profession. A narrative of service impact may include a description of the nature of the work, the number of hours spent on tasks, the roles played on committees, and the outcomes of the work. Faculty should convey how the service activity is making a difference on campus, in the community, and/or in the profession.

C.    Levels of service

      i.  Routine service:  Routine service is expected of every tenure track faculty member regardless of commitments outside of the Department or University. Psychology faculty are expected to participate in routine service as part of their standard workload (15 WTUs).   Faculty who are not teaching due to grant work or outside service commitments are still expected to routinely participate in Department activities (unless on sabbatical).  On occasion, routine service might be considered more major service. For example, work on the Department curriculum committee may be quite extensive one year; that would not be considered routine service.  It is up to the individual to explain the impact and importance of the service.  The following tasks are considered routine service in the Psychology Department and should not be used as evidence of exemplary service when being considered for retention, tenure, or promotion:

a)  Attendance at Department meetings
b)  Scribe for Department meetings (1-2 times per year, as needed)
c)   General academic advising
d)  Monitoring a page on the Psychology Department’s website
e)  Conducting transfer/freshmen orientations as needed
f)  Service on the following department-level committees: GA/TA Committee; Policies and Procedures Committee; Budget and Equipment Committee
g)  Attendance at Master’s proposals/defenses when one is not a committee member
h)  Participating in regular program assessment activities
i)  Participating in the program review process
j)  Participating in tenure-track search process (not a search committee member)
k)  Attendance at the Psychology Student Research Fair
l)  Attendance at the annual commencement ceremony

     ii.  Major service: These activities are expected of tenure line faculty members but are typically above and beyond routine service.  Over time, service activity should be at the department, college and university and community levels, but may vary depending on the year and the faculty members’ commitments and interests.  It is expected that tenure line faculty will take increasing leadership within these activities as they progress in their career. Examples of major service include but are not limited to:

1.      Department level
   a)  Department chair  (typically limited to Full Professors but may in some circumstances be filled by a faculty member at the Associate Professor level)[1]
   b)  Graduate Coordinator
   c)  Because-I-Care (BIC) Resource Fair coordinator
   d)  Childhood and Adolescent Development (CHAD) program chair
   e)  Vivarium/Instructional Support Technician (IST) manager
   f)  Research Fair advisors
   g)  Human Participant Pool (HPP) coordinator
   h)  Faculty advisor for course approvals
   i)  PRC common members
   j)  MA Thesis Committee work (routinely serve on more than 3 masters theses at a time)
   k)  Program or curriculum development beyond routine changes
   l)  Psi Chi/Psychology Student Organization (PSO) advisor
  m)  Lecturer coordinator
   n)  Psychology Academic Resource Lab (PARL) Coordinator
   o)  Developing a major new departmental initiative

2.  College/University level:
   a)  Academic senator
   b)  Chair or member of College or Academic Senate committee (e.g., FDC, CAPC, HAPC, FAC, APC, UCC, etc.)
   c)  Task force participation
   d)  Faculty Mentoring Program participant
   e)  Regular participation in university events/open houses
   f)  Special event chair (e.g., organizing a conference

3.  Community/Professional Service level
a)  Speaker, community event
   b)  Reviewer for journals and conferences
   c)  Professional presentations to university or community organizations
   d)  Officer or committee member professional society
   e)  Journal editor
   f)  Board member

D.  Examples of evidence documenting Service can be found in the CHABSS and University RTP policies


Although the areas of evaluation are the same for all levels, expectations differ for assistant, associate, and full professors.  Retention recommendations will be based on evaluation of achievements of the faculty member in the three areas as well as an assessment of the faculty member’s potential to be a productive department, college, and university citizen. Tenure and promotion recommendations will be based upon evaluations of the overall record of the faculty member in the three areas. Faculty members' accomplishments that were part of the record at the time of hiring or prior promotion generally are not considered in subsequent evaluation cycles, except as evidence of performance continuity or in the case of new hires who were awarded service credit.

A.  Expectations for retention of probationary faculty

     i.  Teaching:  Faculty are expected to clearly establish their effectiveness as instructors during the probationary period.  
     ii.  Research/Creative Activity:  In the first year, the faculty member is expected to establish a scholarly agenda.  In the second and third years the faculty member is expected to present work at a major conference so that by the end of the third year there is at least one journal article in the publication pipeline.  Major and additional scholarly achievements should then accumulate across successive reviews at a rate that will enable the faculty member to meet the scholarship standard at the time of tenure and promotion.
     iii.  Service:  Service activities should reflect increasing levels of engagement starting with Department service in the first year or two and additional service at the College, University, and/or community level in the later probationary years.  In the first year, service will primarily be routine department service. In the second and third years, in addition to routine Department service, the faculty member may include participation in some College or University committees or task forces.  It may also include participating in community level events or programs.  In the fourth through sixth years,  service should include some major Department service in addition to routine service as well as some College or University level work.  Service may also include participation in local or professional community.

B.  Expectations for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor

     i.  Teaching: The faculty member should have generated considerable evidence of excellence in teaching documented by effective course materials, student evaluations of teaching, and other relevant items.

     ii. Research/Creative Activity:  In addition to evidence of continuous engagement in scholarship, faculty should be able to demonstrate the sustainable nature and independence of their research programs by providing evidence of at least six (6) contributions, at least three (3) of which must be major scholarly achievements.  Of the three major scholarly achievements, at least two (2) should be peer-reviewed journal articles on projects initiated after coming to CSUSM.

     iii.  Service: The record of service must include some major Department service in addition to routine service as well as some College or University level work.  Service may also include participation in local or professional community.

C.  Expectations for promotion to Full Professor

     i.  Teaching: The faculty member should show continued excellence in teaching, as evidenced by effective course materials and student evaluations of teaching that are not substantially below the mean scores for similar courses offered in the Department.

    ii.  Research/Creative Activity:  The faculty member should demonstrate a sustained contribution to the scientific knowledge base of the discipline by providing evidence of at least six (6) scholarly achievements, of which three (3) must be major scholarly achievements.  These achievements must have occurred after submission of the file for tenure/promotion; therefore, only items that were not included in or added to the WPAF for tenure/promotion will be considered.

   iii.  Service: After earning tenure and promotion, service should continue at the Department level and must also include some leadership positions within the College, University or larger community (e.g., chair of a College committee; leadership in a professional group). 

D.  Expectations for post tenure periodic review after promotion to Full Professsor

     i.  Faculty are expected to remain engaged in teaching, scholarship, and service.
     ii.  The Department recognizes that, after promotion to Full Professor, a faculty career may take a variety of forms.  Therefore, the weight given to each of the three areas may differ among faculty.

E.  Expectations for faculty hired with service credit
    When faculty join CSUSM with service credit based on their work elsewhere, expectations for their teaching, scholarship, and service will be applied based on their credited service time plus their CSUSM service time.  For example, an Assistant Professor who arrived with one year of service credit who is being reviewed after one year at CSUSM will be evaluated by the standards appropriate for a faculty member who has completed two years.  

[1] The Department Chair is a time consuming job that is essential to the very existence of an academic department.  Given the burden of this job, the Psychology Department is committed to a model whereby the Chair is rotated among Full Professors for one full term each. Faculty are added to the rotation when they are promoted to the rank of Full Professor. No one is exempt from the obligation to serve a full term as Chair, and thus newly promoted Full Professors should begin to think ahead, planning their research and other service such that they will be ready and able to assume the role of Chair when their time in the rotation arrives. Additionally, it is possible that under some circumstances, an Associate Professor may serve as chair.  It is our hope that we will continue to add new tenure-track faculty to our department over time such that no faculty member needs to serve as Chair for more than one term or serve while an Associate Professor.  However, faculty must be prepared to serve again if the rotation does not expand or serve as an Associate if circumstances warrant it.