Professor in empty classroom September 16, 2015

Student Ratings—Reminders and Suggestions

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Recent research verifies that when looking at small differences in student ratings, faculty and administrators (in this case, department chairs) draw unwarranted conclusions. That’s a problem when ratings are used in decision-making processes regarding hiring, reappointment, tenure, promotion, merit increases, and teaching awards. It’s another chapter in the long, sad story of how research on student ratings has yet to be implemented in practice at most places, but that’s a book, not a blog post. Here, my goal is to offer some reminders and suggestions for when we look at our own ratings.


December 8, 2014

Cruel Student Comments: Seven Ways to Soothe the Sting

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Reading students’ comments on official end-of-term evaluations—or worse, online at sites like RateMyProfessors.com—can be depressing, often even demoralizing. So it’s understandable that some faculty look only at the quantitative ratings; others skim the written section; and many others have vowed to never again read the public online comments. It’s simply too painful.

How else might you respond? Here are seven suggestions for soothing the sting from even the most hurtful student comments:


September 12, 2011

Boost Your Student Ratings by Creating Evidence of Student Learning

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Student ratings can provide helpful and legitimate feedback. Unfortunately, all too often, students give very little time or thought to end-of-course evaluations, or they use them as an opportunity to make mean-spirited comments about the instructor. And, all things being equal, an instructor who teaches a challenging course will score lower than an instructor whose course is less rigorous.


May 19, 2011

Student Rating Forms and Definitions of Good Teaching

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The close of the academic year brings with it the end of courses and the usual student ratings of those courses. Among many concerns related to this activity are those pertaining to the presence of certain items on the form. They ask irrelevant questions, given what and how we teach. Of course, that doesn’t seem to prevent students from offering evaluations in those areas.


December 3, 2010

End-of-Course Ratings: Lessons from Faculty Who Improved

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Two researchers used end-of-course ratings data to generate a cohort of faculty whose ratings in the same course had significantly improved over a three-year period. They defined significant improvement as a 1.5-point increase on an 8-point scale. In this cohort, more than 50 percent of faculty had improved between 1.5 and 1.99 points, another 40 percent between 2.0 and 2.99 points, and the rest even more.






June 18, 2009

Students Question Value of End-of-Course Evaluations

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We’ve visited this topic before: the quality of feedback students provide on those end-of-course ratings. Many students fail to take the evaluation process seriously because, unless they plan on taking another course with that professor, the feedback will provide little benefit to them even if, by chance, the professor decides to act on it.