Home > Educational Leadership, Higher Education, Teaching & Learning > The Role of Student Evaluations in Tenure and Promotion: Is Effective Teaching Really Being Measured?

The Role of Student Evaluations in Tenure and Promotion: Is Effective Teaching Really Being Measured?

By Kimberly A. McCabe and Leslie S. Layne

As a dean, the fall semester always left me a bit uneasy as I discussed the tenure and promotion process with my faculty members. As at most colleges and universities, our institution states that the criteria for tenure and/or promotion are based on teaching, research, and service. In my opinion, service to the college is demonstrated through various activities such as committee memberships, college lectures, and community involvement. Research is documented most easily through publications. However, teaching, and, in fact, effective teaching, remains unclear. After years of discussing the importance of student evaluations with faculty, and actually having one faculty member suggest that they should serve doughnuts on the day they survey the students to better their evaluations, a colleague and I began to explore what students and faculty really believe is demonstrated by the phrase effective teaching.

According to Laube, Massoni, Sprague, and Ferber (2007), administrators routinely rely on the quantitative rating of students when attempting to document effective teaching. These ratings, which are administered at the end of the semester, most often involve the faculty member leaving the classroom while students answer a variety of questions related to classroom management, class content, and the faculty member?s delivery of subject matter. Since the 1980s higher education has routinely incorporated these student evaluations into personnel decisions (Thorne, 1980). However, for more than three decades, many questions have been emerging about the validity of student ratings for the purpose of faculty evaluations (Sheehan, 1975), and to date few questions have been answered.

Continued at: http://cgi.stanford.edu/~dept-ctl/cgi-bin/tomprof/postings.php

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