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For years, one of the most standard practices in

higher education has been what’s called “student

evaluation of teaching,” also known by its acronym

SET. This is a process that is carried out in just about

every college and university course every semester or

term. They are used essentially to measure how effective

a teacher is by surveying student satisfaction.

And the results of these surveys are used to make

many important decisions, such as whether or not

faculty members should be granted tenure – or even

keep their jobs.

A new study, however, is challenging the conventional

wisdom that there is a correlation between

student evaluations and learning. The study, titled

“Meta-analysis of Faculty's Teaching Effectiveness:

Student Evaluation of Teaching Ratings and Student

Learning are not Related,” concludes that SETs are

unreliable due to various kinds of biases against

instructors, and question whether students learn

more in the courses taught by highly rated instructors.


This work was originally published in The Edwardsville Intelligencer.



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