MRU, SMU researchers find that student evaluations are dependent on subject area

May 11, 2017

“Professors teaching quantitative courses are far more likely not to receive tenure, promotion and/or merit pay when their performance is evaluated against common standards,” says a study co-written by Mount Royal University Psychology Professor Bob Uttl and Saint Mary’s University PhD Candidate Dylan Smibert. The study investigated over 325,000 individual student ratings for a select number of quantitative and nonquantitative fields, and found that class subject had a substantial impact on satisfaction and excellence ratings. Uttl and Smibert state that these findings at least suggest that “fairness requires that we evaluate a professor teaching a particular subject against other professors teaching the same subject rather than against some common standard,” and Uttl further suggests that student evaluations of teaching should not be used for high-stakes personnel decisions. Inside Higher Ed