n South African Journal of Higher Education - Performance appraisal : carrot or stick? : perspectives on higher education




This article reports on a small-scale action research project conducted in the Academic Development Centre (ADC) across both campuses of Rhodes University in 2000. In line with the growing movement to extend the professionalism of teachers and to meet the needs of assuring quality, Rhodes University has recently adopted a developmental model of Quality Assurance, which places the responsibility for personal development with individual lecturers themselves. To be critically reflective, practitioners need to gather feedback about their performance so that they can reflect on it and develop themselves in those areas in which weaknesses are recognised. The Academic Development Centre staff agreed to participate in a departmental Performance Appraisal process in order to initiate the appraisal of our own individual performances; better understand the quality assurance demands on academic staff; and gauge the usefulness of Performance Appraisal as a tool for becoming critically reflective. Each ADC staff member was assigned the roles of appraisee and appraiser. Findings suggest that the success of the Performance Appraisal process was dependent firstly on the perceived purpose of the appraisal, and secondly on the capacity (both real and perceived) of individual members of the department, to benefit from and work within the appraisal relationships.


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