Teaching efficacy

What is effective teaching?

A recent article in University Affairs put a spotlight on student course evaluations and raised a series of troubling questions. Manifold studies have established that student course evaluations are little more than glorified popularity contests. Although student feedback has some utility for a professor in terms of tweaking their pedagogy, most students are not capable of measuring long-term learning outcomes. In fact, research establishes that they are subject to numerous biases against women, professors from another country, and visible minorities.  This raises the question, why do universities rely upon an instrument that lacks scientific credibility to evaluate professors and use this flawed metric to determine hiring and promotion?

We Need to Have a Real Discussion:


  • Why do universities put so much weight on student evaluations of teaching?
  • To what extent are student evaluations eroding standards, inflating grades, discouraging innovation, and promoting edutainment?
  • To what extent could administrators abuse this problematic metric in terms of non-tenured faculty?