Test your knowledge of how reliable student ratings are as a source of information about teaching effectiveness.
Myth. Much research indicates that students are good judges of teaching effectiveness. A teacher’s “popularity” with students may very often be related to her/his enthusiasm for the subject matter, which tends to increase student interest and engagement.
Too often, this is a fact. Student rating forms that are designed by departmental committees or individual faculty with little knowledge of how to construct valid survey items are likely to be unreliable. However, there are many carefully developed instruments available that have been tested and shown to be reliable and valid.
Probably a myth. There is limited research, but it appears that such ratings should not be used as evidence of teaching effectiveness.
Myth. Students tend to give high ratings to instructors with high expectations and courses in which they learned a lot. However, students give low ratings to instructors who are perceived as unfair.
The jury is out. Studies have reported widely inconsistent relationships between grades and ratings.
Fact. Students taking a required course are more likely to give it low ratings.
Adapted from: Carnegie' Mellon's “Student Ratings: 15 Common Beliefs and Misconceptions” (No longer available)Written by Mary Ann CainDepartment of English and LinguisticsIPFW