Many African-Americans beginning their first faculty appointment at predominantly white colleges and universities may be in for a surprise. They may be under the illusion that engaging in good publishing, good teaching, and to a lesser degree, good service will ensure their advancement to tenure. Although many authors have explained in detail the consequences of not publishing, few have focused on the obstacles involved in obtaining good teaching evaluations. In many instances, African-American faculty may find their teaching evaluations are based on students' personal opinions rather than on the professors' pedagogical approaches.

This essay will examine some of the obstacles new African-American faculty may face in obtaining good teaching evaluations, the lack of which can threaten their advancement to tenure. By drawing upon the author's own professional experiences, as well as that of others, the essay will illustrate that the issues raised here are not unique. This reality is one with which many professors must contend. It is only through open dialogue with African-American mentors that I am able to embark upon this discussion. It is my hope that discussion surrounding this critical issue in higher education will enable African-American first-year faculty to enter this profession aware of the obstacles to obtaining good teaching evaluations.


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