In this chapter, DUET experimental data are used to clarify two issues that have clouded the debate over the use of student evaluations of teaching in administrative reviews of faculty since their introduction to widespread use in the early 1970s. The first issue concerns the extent to which grades reflect a “biasing” influence on student evaluations of teaching. By examining patterns of student response to the DUET survey as a function of student grades, prior interest in course subject matter, class mean grades, and the consensus ratings of items as estimated from other students’ responses to the survey, the correlation between student grades and student evaluations of teaching is shown to result primarily from grade attribution, the process by which students associate their success in a course with the grade they receive.
The second issue involves the magnitude of the bias that grades have on student evaluations of teaching. Using responses to the DUET survey collected from the same students both before and after they received their final course grades, the influence of grades on student evaluations of teaching is isolated from external factors that have confounded earlier studies. Analyses based on these data demonstrate that the effects of grades on teacher-course evaluations are both substantively and statistically important, and suggest that instructors can often double their odds of receiving high evaluations from students simply by awarding A’s rather than B’s or C’s.
KeywordsHouse Price Survey Item Student Grade Student Response Student Evaluation
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