Thursday, December 18, 2014

Student evaluations

These are now a big part of the promotion and tenure process. It have never been clear to me that students actually are in a position to evaluate their courses. They just don't know enough. And in the US context, evaluations, I believe, tend to stress a teacher's entertainment value or likeability or gooniese (is the teacher a soft touch grading wise). So, though I believe that student input can be useful, I think that it likely plays too large a role given that it is probably a pretty poor indicator of teaching quality.  However, it also seems that there is now evidence that it is also gender biased, and pretty severely. This piece discusses the latter. Again, the discussion is in the context of economics, but I doubt that on this matter we are much different, though I would love to be disabused of this. I would love to know what you think, especially my female colleagues.


  1. I think there is a role for student evaluations, albeit a much smaller one than administrators would have us believe. They do provide useful feedback especially from large courses where you won’t really get to know many of the students. Grades might be good, but the evaluations might show that they’re bored which could imply that the material is too easy. Evaluations also give voice to students who may be too shy or culturally inhibited to communicate their concerns directly to the instructor.

    That said, the only people really qualified to review student evaluations are the instructors themselves and their peers in the same department. Even there, how often have your peers taken a course from you? University administrators love evaluations partly because they get metrics from them, and we already know how fervently administrators worship at the unholy shrine of metrics.

  2. I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job!
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