Education Decline





College students have a powerful say in how their teachers are graded."


Our system has infected these students with the idea that they have the expertise, the authority and the power of judicious scrutiny to appraise their instructors."

In fact "...students are not qualified to evaluate their professors. "


"...the critical question, of course, is whether students are equipped to judge teaching quality. Are students in their first or second semester of college competent to grade their instructors, especially when college teaching is so different from high school? Are students who are doing poorly in their courses able to objectively judge their instructors? And are students, who are almost universally considered as lacking in critical thinking skills, to critically evaluate their instructors? There is substantial evidence that they are not."


"Students are not sufficiently well informed to pronounce on the success or failure of the academic mission: ... Therefore, students are not in a position to speak for all vested interests (including their own long- term interests). "


"Pascal says: while a lame man knows he limps, a lame mind does not know it limps, indeed says it is we who limp. Yet these forms invite the limpers to judge the runners; ....Naturally, this does not encourage the former to become the latter. "

SET indicates" 'consumer satisfaction' rather than teaching effectiveness. "

"What makes many students happy nowadays? 'Understanding' and 'friendly' instructors, 'comfortable' courses and 'fair' grades. To translate: teachers who are not demanding, workloads that are not taxing and grading standards that are not high.

"Students derive satisfaction from less coursework, easy testing, and higher grades."

"...only those professors that are “easy” will receive the high evaluations necessary to ultimately obtain tenure..."

"...most of the factors contributing to student instructional ratings are unrelated to instructors' ability to promote student learning. …"

"The most common criticism of [SET] seems to be that [SET] are biased, in that students tend to give higher ratings when they expect higher grades in the course. This correlation is well-established,....."

"In one survey, 70% of students admitted that their rating of an instructor was influenced by the grade they expected to get."

"Similar proportions of professors believe that grading leniency and course difficulty bias student ratings."

"students give lower ratings to instructors that have high standards and requirements"

"One study found that for every 10 percent increase in the amount of material students learned, the professor's rating decreased by a half-point."

"…  instructor expressiveness had a substantial impact on student ratings but a small impact on student achievement..."

In one study "student achievement accounted for 14.4% of overall instructor rating variance. Other analyses have turned up somewhat lower estimates of student rating validity. In a meta-analysis of 14 multi-section validity studies, McCallum (1984) found that student achievement explained 10.1% and 6.4% of (respectively) overall instructor and course rating variance...." and in still another study "  student achievement accounted for only 3.9% ..."

"Since many of the students in college today are of much lower quality, these same students are more likely to modify evaluations in response to grade manipulation..."


"...the SET process provides that the identity of the respondent to the SET questionnaire would or could never be disclosed publicly. This fact contains a latent message to students. This is, in the SET process, there are not personal consequences for a negligent, false, or even malicious representation. There is no "student responsibility" in student evaluations."


There is another very powerful argument against the  use of SET.  It is the so called snap judgment hypothesis.

"Two Harvard psychologists, Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal, did a particularly devastating experiment. "

"...observers who were presented with a 10-second silent video clip of a teacher in a classroom setting had no difficulty rating the teacher on a 15-item checklist of personality traits. Moreover, when the clip was cut to five seconds, the ratings were the same, and they remained the same when the clip was cut to two seconds of videotape."

"The next step for Ambady and Rosenthal was to compare these snap judgments with judgements of teacher effectiveness based on end-of-term student evaluations. The correlation was relatively high."

" A composite of the personality trait ratings correlated .76 with end-of-term course evaluations; ratings of instructors' "optimism" showed an impressive .84 correlation with end-of-term course evaluations. Thus, in order to predict with fair accuracy the ratings an instructor would get, it was not necessary to know anything of what the instructor said in class, the material the course covered, the readings, the assignments, the tests."

Williams and Ceci conducted a related experiment. Professor Ceci, a veteran teacher of the Developmental Psychology course at Cornell, gave the course consecutively in both fall and spring semesters one year. In between the two semesters, he visited a media consultant for lessons on improving presentation style. Specifically, Professor Ceci was trained to modulate his tone of voice more and to use more hand gestures while speaking. He then proceeded, in the spring semester, to give almost the identical course (verified by checking recordings of his lectures from the fall), with the sole significant difference being the addition of hand gestures and variations in tone of voice (grading policy, textbook, office hours, tests, and even the basic demographic profile of the class remained the same). The result: student ratings for the spring semester were far higher, usually by more than one standard deviation, on all aspects of the course and the instructor. Even the textbook was rated higher by almost a full point on a scale from 1 to 5. Students in the spring semester believed they had learned far more (this rating increased from 2.93 to 4.05), even though, according to Ceci, they had not in fact learned any more, as measured by their test scores. "

"Another of Rosenthal's students, Frank Bernieri (now at the University of Toledo), collabrated with graduate-student Neha Gada-Jain on a study in which they trained two interviewers for six weeks in accepted employment interviewing techniques. Then the two people interviewed ninety-eight volunteers of various backgrounds. Each interview was fifteen to twenty minutes, and all the interviews were captured on tape. After the interview, the trained interviewers rated the subjects. Another student, Tricia Prickett, then edited the interview tapes down to fifteen seconds. Each fifteen-second clip showed the applicant entering the room, shaking hands with the interviewer, and sitting down. There was nothing more substantial than that. You guessed it - when another group rated the applicants just on the handshake clip, their opinions correlated strongly with those of the two trained interviewers who had the full interview to work from.

Finaly "the Dr. Fox Effect. In a well-known study, a professional actor was hired to deliver a non-substantive and contradictory lecture, but in an enthusiastic and authoritative style. The audience, consisting of professional educators, had been told they would be listening to Dr. Myron Fox, an expert on the application of mathematics to human behavior. They were then asked to rate the lecture. Dr. Fox received highly positive ratings, and no one saw through the hoax Later studies have obtained similar results showing that audience ratings of a lecture are more strongly influenced by superficial stylistic matters than by content. "


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