What Practical use is Made of Student Evaluations of Teaching?

Knowles, D. and Hindley, C. 2014. What Practical use is Made of Student Evaluations of Teaching? European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies. Cass Business School, City University, London, UK 16 - 17 Jun 2014

TitleWhat Practical use is Made of Student Evaluations of Teaching?
AuthorsKnowles, D. and Hindley, C.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are an accepted method of investigating the impact of lecturers’ work with students. Although research generally shows that student evaluations are a positive development, conflicting research on the reliability and validity of the methods used leads to our overall research objective of discovering what practical use is made of the evaluation data by lecturers. Particular focus is placed on the lecturers’ attitude to the use of quantitative and qualitative questions and the reliability of the evaluations as an effective tool. Considerations include the halo effect, students’ ability to accurately assess course content, the influence of assessment grading, and fundamentally the fitness of this instrument for the purpose of acquiring useful, objective data.
In a global context SETs may be used by institutions for recruitment or promotion purposes. However, in Europe they tend to be regarded as confidential documents seen only by individual course leaders and senior management at faculty level. They are therefore more commonly expected to be used by the lecturers themselves as evidence of particular necessary steps that would improve course quality and student satisfaction. With regard to the use to which the evaluation results may be put, a certain cynicism is evident among lecturers who perhaps shrink from a perceived obligation to cater to the demands of the student in the role of consumer. Such evaluations include both quantitative and qualitative measurements, generally concentrating on the quantitative as a useful tool to produce statistically comparable data. This initial study uses interviews with lecturers and senior faculty staff at a German private business school and examines their perceptions of the procedures, including their assessment of the effectiveness and use of the results of SETs of their undergraduate students. The data analysis shows a diverse attitude to the evaluations and the call for more open debate and agreement on the format, reliability and use of these evaluations.

KeywordsBusiness School, Lecturer perceptions; Quality of university teaching; Reliability; Student evaluations of Teaching; Validity
Year2014
Conference European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies
Accepted author manuscriptHindley & Knowles 2014 ECRM.pdf

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