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Sep 29, 2016 08:08 AM EDT

Students’ Evaluation of Teachers Not an Indicator of Educators’ Effectiveness and Student Learning

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Intended to help teachers and educators improve their craft, student evaluation of teaching (SETs) were adopted. For the last few years, these surveys from students have been considered as an important part of teaching evaluations and has even been used for justifying rewards and tenureship of faculty members. Recent studies however, prove the practice has nothing to do with teachers' effectiveness in class and students' learning and performance.

One study recently revealed that there is "no significant correlations between the SET ratings and learning." This conclusion was made after researchers analyzed original data that has been the basis of adopting the SETs in back in the 1980s which provides "strong support for the validity of student ratings as measures of teaching effectiveness".

This further revealed that data interpretation and the way it was manipulated was questionable and did not provide concrete proof of the correlation between evaluation and learning.

The researchers called on universities to review the weight given to SETs and consider it appropriately after running their own data and finding from their meta-analysis which indicated zero correlation between SETs and learning.

According to the paper, "The entire notion that we could measure professors' teaching effectiveness by simple ways such as asking students to answer a few questions about their perceptions of their course experiences, instructors' knowledge and the like seems unrealistic given well-established findings from cognitive sciences such as strong associations between learning and individual differences including prior knowledge, intelligence, motivation and interest. Individual differences in knowledge and intelligence are likely to influence how much students learn in the same course taught by the same professor."

Times Higher Education noted earlier that "student ratings appear to reflect their enjoyment of a course and because teacher strategies that result in knowledge acquisition (such as requiring demanding homework and regular course attendance) decrease students' course enjoyment, SETs are at best a biased measure of teacher effectiveness."

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