Russell A. Hunt
St. Thomas University

Some Resources on Student Evaluation of Teaching

Note: I inquired on two email lists -- the POD [Professional & Organization Development Network in Higher Education] list, and on STLHE-L, the list of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education -- for suggestions of "an article or two which would offer a good overview of what's currently known about student evaluations." The following items were suggested; in each case I've identified the suggester, and added their comments if they made any. I've also added some items I found in a quick search on Academic Search Elite. I invite anyone to comment further on any of these -- or suggest resources I've missed -- by sending me an email at hunt@stu.ca; I'll add them, or new comments, to those already there.

You might want to bookmark this and check back; I'm hoping that it will continue to be a work in progress, and profit from continuing advice and counsel from both those marvellous electronic communities.

Last updated 8 December 2002.



Knapper, Chris & Pat Cranton, eds. "Fresh approaches to the evaluation of teaching" (New Directions for Teaching & Learning # 88, Winter 2001)
For quick review, the most recent collections are the New Directions issues . . . " -- Mike Theall <mtheall@ysu.edu>, on POD


Theall, Mike, Phil Abrami, & Lisa Mets, eds. "The student ratings debate: are they valid? How can we best use them?" New Directions for Institutional Research # 109, Spring 2001.
For quick review, the most recent collections are the New Directions issues . . . " -- Mike Theall <mtheall@ysu.edu>, on POD


Arreola, Raoul. Developing a comprehensive faculty evaluation system, 2nd Edition. Anker Pubs., 2000.
The most current book to hand a colleague. It provides both background and tested, usable process for
all aspects of evaluation. -- Mike Theall <mtheall@ysu.edu>, on POD


Stapleton, Richard John and Gene Murkison (2001), "Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations: A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production and Expected Grades." Journal of Management Education, 25, 3 (June), 269-291.
-- David Dunne, STLHE-L


McKeachie, Wilbert. "Student Ratings: The Validity of Use", American Psychologist 52:11 (1997), 1218-1225.

Cashin, William. "Student Ratings of Teaching: A Summary of the Research." Idea paper # 20, Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development, Kansas State University. March 1984.
[ http://www.idea.ksu.edu/papers/pdf/Idea_Paper_20.pdf ]
-- Elaine Blakemore, STLHE-L

Cashin, William. "Student Ratings of Teaching: The Research Revisited." Idea paper # 32, Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development, Kansas State University. September 1995.
[ http://www.idea.ksu.edu/papers/pdf/Idea_Paper_32.pdf ]
-- Elaine Blakemore, STLHE-L

Cashin, William. "Developing an Effective Faculty Evaluation system." Idea paper # 33, Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development, Kansas State University. January 1996.
[ http://www.idea.ksu.edu/papers/pdf/Idea_Paper_33.pdf ]
-- Elaine Blakemore, STLHE-L


Wright, W. A., & O'Neil, M. C. (1992). Improving summative student ratings of instruction practices. Staff Prog. & Org. Dev., 10 (2), 75-85.
-- Elaine Blakemore, STLHE-L

George, Judith, and John Cowan. A Handbook of Formative Evaluation - mapping the students' learning experience. Kogan Page, 1999.
-- Elaine Blakemore, STLHE-L

Arreola, R.A. & Aleamoni, L.M. (1990). "Practical decisions in developing and operating a faculty evaluation system." In M. Theall & J. Franklin (Eds.), Student Ratings of Instruction: Issues for Improving Practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc. Pp. 37-55.
-- Elaine Blakemore, STLHE-L

Arreola, R.A. & Aleamoni, L.M. Developing a Comprehensive Faculty Evaluation System. Anker Press, 1995.
Damron, John C. "Instructor Personality and the Politics of the Classroom." 1996. Self-published Web text, available at ftp://ftp.csd.uwm.edu/pub/Psychology/BehaviorAnalysis/educational/politics-of-instructor-evaluation-damron
I like the overview of Damron, who scanned the literature in the last 15 years as well and who published his (updated) opinion in the internet -- Jon Radue, STLHE-L

McKeachie, Wilbert. "Student Ratings: The Validity of Use," American Psychologist, 52:11 (1997) 1218-1225.
This is an excellent and easy read. -- Erhan Erkut, Ph.D. [on STLHE-L]


Marsh, H.W. (1987), "Students' evaluations of university teaching: Research findings, methodological issues and directions for future research," International Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 11, No. 3, 255-388.
. . . a thorough survey of the literature (as of 1987) -- Erhan Erkut, Ph.D. [on STLHE-L]

Wilson, W.R "Students Rating Reachers," Journal of Higher Education 70:5 (Sept/Oct 1999): 562-571.
"The faculty rating experiment at the University of Washington." -- Instructional Development Centre. Queens University


Feldman, K. A. "Identifying exemplary teachers and teaching: evidence from student ratings." in Teaching and Learning in the College Classroom. 2nd ed. K. A. Feldman and M. B. Paulsen, eds. Needham Heights, MA: Simon & Schuster, 1998, 391-414.

George J., & Cowan, J. (1999). A Handbook of Techniques for Formative Evaluation - mapping the student's learning experience. Kogan Page.
-- David Jacques, on STLHE-L

Day, K., Grant, R & Hounsell, D. (1998). Reviewing your Teaching. Centre for Teaching Learning and Assessment, University of Edinburgh and Universities' and Colleges' Staff Development Agency, Sheffield, UK
-- David Jacques, on STLHE-L

Hounsell, D., Tait,  H. & Day, K. (1997) Feedback on Courses and Programmes of Study. Centre for Teaching Learning and Assessment, University of Edinburgh and Universities' and Colleges' Staff Development Agency, Sheffield, UK.
-- David Jacques, on STLHE-L

Feldman, K. A."Research productivity and scholarly accomplishment of college teachers as related to their instructional effectiveness." Research in Higher Education 26 (1987): 227 - 298.
Feldman (this guy does such wonderful work!) also teased apart the meaning of these global satisfaction ratings . . . Presuming that publication of peer-reviewed articles is an indication that you know your subject, Feldman found that "Teacher's knowledge of subject" was the 9th most important instructional dimension in both student achievement and in ratings of satisfaction. This doesn't mean that one can sweep the street corner for warm bodies -- whether those of not-quite-dead-white males -- or those who may qualify under affirmative action -- and get good results in a classroom teaching something they know nothing about. This is a result wherein apparently about all people in the data base presumably had some reasonable mastery of their subjects.-- Ed Nuhfer, on POD [This comment on Feldman's work was brought to my attention by Mike Chejlava, also on POD]

Birk, James P. & John Foster. "The Importance of Lecture in General Chemistry Course Performance," J. Chem. Educ. 70 (1993), 180.
This article compared the student scores on a standardized final among course taught by several faculty members over several years.  The findings were that even though the student evaluations of the faculty varied and the size of the lecture sections varied, neither of these factors had any significant effect upon the student scores on the standardized test.  The test used was the American Chemical Society test for General Chemistry, which while not perfect in testing learning, is the best that we have in the field. -- Michael Chejlava

Fleilich, Mark. "A student evaluation of teaching techniques: 'none of them is unimportant'." J. Chem Educ. 60:3 (March 1983).
Reports a study of what factors of teaching that students feel are the most important. At the end of
the conclusion he wrote: " It is also significant that many of the higher rated items [by the students] tend to be those which lead to the accumulation of facts and that the lowest rated ones (items z, bb, and aa) are those which  approximate the problem solving situations which one finds upon entering the "real world." When we ask our students what helps them learn best, are we actually asking them what helps them memorize, not think?" -- Michael Chejlava

Wachtel, Howard K. "Student evaluation of college teaching effectiveness: A brief review." Assessment & Evaluation
in Higher Education. 23: 2 (June 1998), 191 ff.
Abstract: Presents a brief review of research on student written evaluations of the teaching performance of college and university instructors. Historical background; Arguments against the use of student evaluations as a
valid indicator of teaching effectiveness; Discussion of student and faculty reaction to the use of student ratings. -- Academic Search Elite [full text on line; many references]


Grenwald, Anthony G.; Gillmore, Gerald M. "How Useful Are Student Ratings? Reactions to Comments on
the Current Issues Section." American Psychologist 53:11 (November 1998): 1228 ff.
Abstract: Responds to the comments by Richard Redding, James Friedrich, Dave Buck and J. Scott Armstrong on student ratings. Shared form of argument of the comments; Analyses of the four premises and conclusion of the reasoning underlying the argument; Belief of Armstrong and Buck on the failure of student ratings as measures of instructional quality; Problem with objective achievement measures; Lack of items that assess students' study
behavior. -- Academic Search Elite


Armstrong, J. Scott. Are Student Ratings of Instruction Useful? American Psychologist 53:11 (November 1998): 1223 ff.
Abstract: Presents a reaction to the article `Validity Concerns and Usefulness of Student Ratings of Instruction,' by Anthony G. Greenwald which appeared in the November 1997 issue of the `American Psychologist.' Alleged failure of the article to provide direct evidence on the usefulness of students ratings; Discussion on the question of the relation of teacher ratings to learning; Conclusion on the role of teacher ratings on teachers' interest in helping people learn. -- Academic Search Elite


Shevlin, Mark; Banyard, Philip; Davies, Mark; Griffiths, Mark. "The Validity of Student Evaluation of Teaching in Higher Education: love me, love my lectures? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 25:4 (December 2000): 397ff.
Abstract: This paper examines the validity of student evaluation of teaching (SET) in universities. Recent research demonstrates that evaluations can be influenced by factors other than teaching ability such as student characteristics and the physical environment. In this study, it was predicted that students' perception of the lecturer would significantly predict teaching effectiveness ratings. Using an 11-item student rating scale (N = 199), a two-factor confirmatory factor model of teaching effectiveness was specified and estimated using LISREL8; the factors were 'lecturer ability' and 'module attributes'. This initial model was extended to include a factor relating to the students' ratings of the lecturer's charisma. The model was an acceptable description of the data. The charisma factor explained 69% and 37% of the variation in the 'lecturer ability and 'module attributes' factors respectively. These findings suggest that student ratings do not wholly reflect actual teaching effectiveness. It is argued that a central trait exists which influences a student's evaluation of the lecturer. -- Academic Search Elite; abstract from author


Obenchain, Kathryn M.; Abernathy, Tammy V.; Wiest, Lynda R. "The Reliability of Students' Ratings of Faculty Teaching
Effectiveness." College Teaching 49:3 (Summer2001) 100 ff.
Abstract: Presents information on a study which examined the reliability of teacher education students'
evaluations of faculty teaching effectiveness. Methodology; Results of the study; Discussion.-- Academic Search Elite; Full text on line


Fresko, Barbara. "Faculty Views of Student Evaluation of College Teaching." Assessment & Evaluation in Higher
Education 27:2 (March 2002) 187 ff.
Abstract: The literature abounds with psychometric studies of course evaluation measures and articles
debating the merits of student ratings of instruction, but little research has focused on faculty perceptions of this procedure. In the present study faculty perceptions are explored at a teachers' college where evaluation is carried out annually on a sample of courses. The sample includes 101 instructors who completed the research questionnaire. Faculty attitudes reflected a broad range of responses towards validity of student ratings, and their usefulness for improving instruction. Although overall attitudes were mildly positive, few instructors reported changing instruction as a result of student ratings. Moreover, few supported sending evaluation results directly to college administrators or publishing them for student consumption.-- Academic Search Elite; abstract from author

Hake, Richard. "Problems with Student Evaluations: Is Assessment the Remedy?" Thu, 25 Apr 2002.
[Posted to a number of email lists, including AERA-D, POD, and STLHE-L, and available in its original form on the relevant archives.] Converted to HTML format, it is also on line here: [ http://www.stu.ca/~hunt/hake.htm ]
Includes many useful references.

The University of Alberta Faculty of Extension's Academic Technologies for Learning site includes a useful resource titled "The Multifaceted Evaluation of Teaching," about which they say, "This resource is intended to provide guidance to a variety of constituencies. Individual academic staff members may find useful information here to inform a formative process for the improvement of their teaching as a part of their own professional development. This information may also be used by Deans and Department Chairs who are conducting formative and summative evaluations of the teaching and teachers in their units. Finally, members of Faculty Evaluation Committees can use this material to help to decide what evidence is appropriate to inform their salary, tenure and promotion deliberations."  It's on line at:
[ http://www.atl.ualberta.ca/resources/articles/evalresource.htm ]


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