© 2017 Laura Grogan       Nathan, Queensland, Australia       l.grogan"at"griffith.edu.au       +61 7 3735 9255

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Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET) - what is their real value?

10 Jul 2017

If you're aiming to make a career out of teaching at university, you'll soon become very familiar with some of the common 'metrics' used to evaluate your performance, including the Student Evaluation of Course (SEC) and Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET). 

 

Typically they involve a series of standardised questions and a corresponding 5-point Likert scale to collect responses, with some additional space for 'free-form' written responses. Students are asked to fill these surveys out towards the end of course teaching (but often prior to the final exam block). Filling out the surveys is voluntary. 

 

As you might imagine, SEC and SET surveys can be subject to some quite substantial biases. So how well do the results actually represent reality (course and teaching quality)?

 

A friend sent me this really interesting article recently on the value of SETs for evaluating teaching effectiveness. 

 

Uttl, B., White, C. A. and Gonzalez, D. W. (2017) Meta-analysis of faculty's teaching effectiveness: Student evaluation of teaching ratings and student learning are not related. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 54: 22-42.

 

"Despite more than 75 years of sustained effort, there is presently no evidence supporting the widespread belief that students learn more from professors who receive higher SET ratings."

 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191491X16300323​

 

 

 

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I'm a Lecturer and Research Fellow at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. I have a background in ecology, epidemiology & veterinary science. I'm passionate about wildlife conservation, quantitative modelling, and population & disease ecology. 

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