Student evaluations measure gender bias, grade expectations better than teaching effectiveness

January 13, 2016

According to a newly published study, student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are actually better at gauging the gender bias and grade expectations of students than they are at measuring teaching effectiveness. The study follows on earlier work to analyze some 23,000 evaluations from over 4,000 students of nearly 400 instructors. The study’s findings held over two different universities and across a broad range of topics. They found that the bias against female instructors could be strong enough to cause them to receive lower SET scores than less-effective male instructors. The study concludes that the onus should be placed upon universities to show that relying on SET for employment decisions does not have a disparate impact on women or underrepresented minorities, and if they cannot, “SET should not be used for personnel decisions.” Inside Higher Ed