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Student ratings of instruction, although widely used on college and university campuses, remain a subject of controversy, surrounded by myths and assumptions often not corroborated by research. The first few sites below present research into student ratings. The sites following these provide information on constructing, administering, and interpreting the data, including suggestions for using student evaluations to improve teaching. The last two sites provide an alternative to the standard student evaluation form: an instrument that focuses on student learning gains.
“Student Ratings of Teaching: A Summary of the Research,” William E. Cashin, Kansas State University. (IDEA Paper #20, September 1988). Adobe Acrobat/PDF.
Summarizes what research shows about the reliability, validity, and possible bias of student evaluations of teaching. Concludes that student ratings can be useful when used in combination with other sources of data.
“Student Ratings of Teaching: The Research Revisited,” William E. Cashin, Kansas State University (IDEA Paper #32, September 1995). Adobe Acrobat/PDF.
An update of IDEA Paper #20 (listed above), this paper summarizes the results of research on student ratings from 1971 to 1995. Concludes once again that student ratings tend to be useful but should only be used as one source of data among multiple sources.
“Student Ratings of College Teaching: What Research Has to Say,” Lucy C. Jacobs (Indiana University Bloomington, Evaluation Services and Testing).
Summarizes research into factors that do and do not influence student ratings other than teaching performance: course characteristics, student characteristics, instructor characteristics, and administration of ratings.
“Questions Frequently Asked About Student Ratings Forms: Summary of Research Findings,” Matthew Kaplan, Lisa A. Mets, Constance E. Cook. (University of Michigan, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching).
FAQs and answers based on research into student evaluations of teaching. Has extensive bibliography.
“What Do They Know, Anyway?” Richard M. Felder (North Carolina State University). Chemical Engineering Education, Vol. 26, No. 3, Summer 1992.
Myths about student evaluations and facts supported by research.
“What Do They Know, Anyway? II. Making Evaluations Effective,” Richard M. Felder (North Carolina State University). Chemical Engineering Education, Vol. 27, No. 3, Winter 1993.
Useful ideas for constructing, using, and interpreting student evaluations.
“Student Ratings of Teaching: Recommendations for Use,” William E. Cashin, Kansas State University. (IDEA Paper #22, January 1990). Adobe Acrobat/PDF.
This paper makes 34 recommendations for the effective and appropriate use of student ratings of teaching.
Student Evaluations (Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching).
Tips for making sense of student evaluations, links to online resources for interpreting them and online research summaries.
Student Evaluation of Teaching (University of North Carolina, Center for Teaching and Learning).
Guidelines for constructing, administering, and interpreting student evaluation forms, and using student feedback to improve teaching.
“Using Student Evaluations to Improve Teaching,” Speaking of Teaching, Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, Vol. 9, No. 1, Fall 1997 Adobe Acrobat/PDF.
Specific suggestions for interpreting student evaluations and using them to improve teaching.
“A Punitive Bureaucratic Tool or a Valuable Resource? Using Student Evaluations to Enhance Your Teaching,” Sarah Moore and Nyiel Kuol, University of Limerick. In AISHE Readings: Emerging Issues in the Practice of University Learning and Teaching, 2005.
This article focuses on faculty reaction to student evaluations of teaching and explores individual strategies for analyzing student feedback in ways that will enhance future teaching. Also discusses design issues for a student evaluation system.
Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG)
This site offers a free student rating instrument designed to provide feedback on what students perceive they have gained from a course. Includes examples of SALG rating forms from a wide variety of courses in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. It is intended to supplement or replace traditional student evaluations of teaching. Faculty can register to set up their own course evaluations using the SALG template.