Tuesday, August 20, 2019
London School of Economics and Public Policy, Student Evaluations of Teaching Are Not Only Unreliable, They Are Significantly Biased Against Female Instructors:
A series of studies across countries and disciplines in higher education confirm that student evaluations of teaching (SET) are significantly correlated with instructor gender, with students regularly rating female instructors lower than male peers. Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark [Student Evaluations of Teaching (Mostly) Do Not Measure Teaching Effectiveness] argue the findings warrant serious attention in light of increasing pressure on universities to measure teaching effectiveness. Given the unreliability of the metric and the harmful impact these evaluations can have, universities should think carefully on the role of such evaluations in decision-making.
The sign of any connection between SET and teaching effectiveness is murky, whereas the associations between SET and grade expectations and between SET and instructor gender are clear and significant. Because SET are evidently biased against women (and likely against other underrepresented and protected groups) — and worse, do not reliably measure teaching effectiveness — the onus should be on universities either to abandon SET for employment decisions or to prove that their reliance on SET does not have disparate impact.