Student Performance Assessment

Student Performance Appraisal

Abstract

The following paper is an examination of the performance appraisal system used by the University of California, Davis. The University has an excellent reputation regarding research. In order to maintain this reputation the employees will need to be performing at optimal levels. This performance will be encouraged through the proper use of performance appraisals. An important aspect which needs to be added to the appraisal is the evaluation of the employee's organizational citizenship behavior. The report would also benefit from encouraging evaluators to consider previous appraisals and be cautious not to assign attributes to the employee. Adding peer assessments to the evaluation would add depth and reliability to the assessment. The performance appraisal report includes a section which encourages self-assessment. While this part of the appraisal may not be accurate, it encourages valuable self-reflection. The importance of 360° feedback is discussed. Feedback from multiple sources has been shown to be more reliable and richer. By including peer reviews in the performance evaluation, feedback will acquire a 360° nature. The University's performance appraisal does not include a rating scale and this is encouraged. Training of those doing the performance appraisal is likely to increase the effectiveness of the system.

Introduction

This paper is an evaluation of the performance appraisal system used by the University of California, Davis. This University is one of the best public research universities in the United States. The vision of this institution is to achieve the goals of increasing students' discovery, engagement, and learning. A basic guiding principle of the school is serving the needs of society by observing the inherent dignity of all individuals. A culture of social justice for all is encouraged. Understanding is encouraged to decrease inherent biases and misunderstandings, which are present in society. The University takes a stand against discrimination based on sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political stance, gender, age, race, or ethnicity. The University of California, Davis is of moderate size with about 30,000 students, approximately 20,000 staff members, and 5000 faculty. The faculty consist of teachers, researchers, and scholars.

Like many 21st-century organizations, the University of California, Davis has a number of human resource policies including performance appraisals of staff. These evaluations are done on an annual basis in compliance with Policy 23 of the Personnel Policies for Staff Members.

Organizational Citizenship

There are a number of theoretical considerations, which must be taken into account when considering performance appraisals and one of these is organizational citizenship behavior. These types of behaviors consist of actions, which are a matter of personal choice. The actions are not recognized as part of a formal reward system and declining to engage in these behaviors does not result in punishment. However, citizenship behaviors can have an important impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of employees working in an organization. The behaviors contribute to the productivity of an organization.

A variety of actions and attitudes are considered to be part of organizational citizenship behavior. The actions include compliance with social norms of the organization, altruism, participation in social and workgroups, obedience to authority, and expressions of loyalty to the organization.

A study by Whiting, Podsakoff & Pierce investigated the effect organizational citizenship behavior of employees has on their performance appraisal ratings. In general, individuals who exhibit these behaviors receive higher performance appraisals than colleagues who do the same type of work at the same proficiency level.

The University of California, Davis's employee performance appraisal report does not ask for the appraisal of the employee's interaction with other people in the organization. While this has the advantage of not encouraging a subjective rating, it ignores an important aspect of behavior, which will affect the appraisal. The appraisal report would benefit from questions, which address the organizational citizenship behaviors of the employee. This would allow a more conscious consideration of these factors by the individual doing the appraisal.

Person Perception

Theories concerned with the way in which people perceive others are important in relation to the performance evaluation process. These theories are referred to by a number of names such as the theory of person perception, attribution theory, social cognition theory, and the term which will be used in this paper: implicit person theory. The implicit person theory helps explain some of the issues related to a manager's performance appraisal. According to this theory, people develop beliefs about attributes of others, which can be difficult to change. For example, a manager may decide that an employee's lack of performance is due to the trait of laziness. If the employee begins exhibiting better job performance, this may not be acknowledged by the manager. This would be likely to result in the employee being frustrated and withdrawn. On the other hand, the opposite situation could occur with an employee who the manager has decided is responsible. If this individual has a decrease in their work performance, it may not be observed.

The University of California, Davis's employee performance appraisal report does not address previous appraisals. It may be helpful for the evaluator to be prompted by the report asking how this evaluation compared to previous ones. Combined with training the managers about the risk of assigning fixed attributes to employees, this prompting may lead to more appropriate evaluations.

Peer Assessment

The importance of peer assessment is now recognized in a number of fields. For example, Journalists consider a blind peer-reviewed as being the most rigorous and prestigious type of evaluation. Employee performance effectiveness is frequently done by subordinates, bosses, and peers. This type of evaluation will be discussed in the section on 360° feedback.

The University of California, Davis's employee performance appraisal report does not allow for a peer review of the employee's performance. The addition of this source of information to the appraisal could supply important information and make the assessment more reliable.

Self Assessment

Self-assessment is an important part of professions such as medicine, law, nursing and accounting. These professions combine self-assessment with continuing education as a way to encourage individuals to maintain a sufficient knowledge base regarding their work. Research by Davis et al. indicates that self-assessments are not as accurate as evaluations done by other people. However, the long tradition of self-assessment in the professions suggests that there may be some benefit to this activity.

The University of California, Davis's employee performance appraisal report includes a section for the employee to reflect on their accomplishments. Despite the possible lack of accuracy, this activity has the advantage of encouraging employees to review their work and provides an alternative perspective as discussed in the section on 360° feedback.

360 Degree Feedback

Providing feedback to those involved in organizations has been shown to be of paramount importance. Feedback is a complex communication phenomenon which alters the way in which an individual can process information. Appropriate feedback allows the individual to process information in a more efficient manner and makes the likelihood of successful problem resolution more likely.

It has become common in research to use the term "360° feedback" when describing evaluation from multiple sources. The term describes feedback in an organization coming to an individual from all directions. The individual can be conceptualized as being within the center of a communication circle. They are receiving feedback from their superiors, peers, and even from themselves. This contrasts with the traditional performance appraisal where an employee gains feedback from their superiors or upward feedback where managers are appraised by their subordinates.

Feedback received from multiple sources is likely to be more reliable. The difference in receiving feedback from multiple sources, in contrast to a single source, can be conceptualized as similar to the difference between monocular and binocular vision. If one looks at an object with a single eye, the image may be clear but lacks depth. By looking at the same object with two eyes depth perception is gained. This is because the images are viewed from slightly different angles with each eye. Similarly, feedback from multiple sources is often richer and more useful.

The University of California, Davis's employee performance appraisal report contains feedback from the supervisor and the employee. Feedback from the employee is s part of the report in the section labeled "Employee Summary of Accomplishments". There is no provision for peer review. A section which included feedback from the employee's peers would make the report more complete and could be considered 360° feedback.

Rating Scales

Many traditional performance appraisal systems involve quantitative tools, such as rating scales, which are used to score the employee's work. This is frequently a disadvantage when the supervisor attempts to consider the complexity of the employee's contribution to the organization. These rating scales can limit the ability of a manager to assess an employee.

The University of California, Davis's employee performance appraisal report does not include a numeric rating scale. This can be seen as beneficial by allowing the supervisor freedom to express themselves in regard to their views on the accomplishments of the employee.

Training

Accurate performance appraisals require that those doing the assessment be well trained. The individual doing the assessment must understand the job duties in order to judge how well the employee is performing. Furthermore, it is important that those appraising other's work understand the limitation of their own judgment. This is especially true in relation to person perception.

Other than basic instruction provided on the University of California, Davis's website there does not appear to be formal instruction for management on how to do a proper performance appraisal. The organization would benefit from this type of training.

Conclusion

The University of California, Davis is well respected for their research. In fact, it is one of the most well respected research universities in the United States. A University of this quality will only be able to continue with its excellent performance, and maintain its reputation, if it encourages high-quality work by its employees. An essential part of this encouragement is a proper performance appraisal system.

Despite the University's excellent reputation regarding research, their employee appraisal system can be significantly improved. Suggestions for improvement of the employee performance appraisal form include:

1. Assessment of the individual's interaction with other employees to determine levels of organizational citizenship behavior.

2. Require the manager doing the appraisal to consider previous evaluations and be aware of the risk in assigning attributes to employees.

3. Include a section for Peer assessment.

4. Require management which is conducting employee performance appraisals to attend annual training sessions. These training sessions may help individuals avoid the trap of assigning attributes to employees as described in implicit person theory.

References

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Murphy, T. H., & Margulies, J. Performance appraisals. ABA Labor and Employment Law Section, Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, Mid-Winter Meeting.

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Welcome to UCDavis. UC Davis.

Whiting, S. W., Podsakoff, P. M., & Pierce, J. R. Effects of task performance, helping, voice, and organizational loyalty on performance appraisal rating. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(1), 125-139.

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