Students’ Evaluation of Instructors

History and Issues

For background, history, and issues on evaluation of faculty, see the American Association of University Professors website, especially this section of it:


Two Sources


[M]ost students will forgive a teacher anything so long as they receive at least a B—except for those who seldom show up and never study, who will accept a C, although such low grades are rare. In addition to buying off trouble for doing such a poor job, the entire teaching force, from adjuncts to tenured professors, is tempted to win glowing student evaluations by bribing their classes. Widely derided when first introduced several decades ago, student evaluations have become a standard component of faculty promotions. Everyone knows these evaluations are worse than useless because they penalize demanding teachers and reward the easy graders, but administrators love evaluations which sustain the illusion that the happier students become the more they learn, which as the NAAL shows, is manifestly untrue….


Not surprisingly students seem content with a system that fails to prepare them for life in the work force but offers them four or five years of enjoyable irresponsibility. Murray Sperber, whose Beer and Circus (2000) is must reading on this subject, calls this arrangement the faculty/student nonaggression pact, according to which instructors pretend to teach and students pretend to learn. Everyone gets good grades or evaluations and presumably goes home happy.

From “The Appalling Decline of Literacy Among College Graduates”

by historian William O’Neill - February 9, 2011    



There's a huge incentive set up in the system [for] asking students very little, grading them easily, entertaining them, and your course evaluations will be high….


According to the study, one possible reason for a decline in academic rigor and, consequentially, in writing and reasoning skills, is that the principal evaluation of faculty performance comes from student evaluations at the end of the semester. Those evaluations, Arum says, tend to coincide with the expected grade that the student thinks he or she will receive from the instructor.

From Academically Adrift by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa - February 9, 2011






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