Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Data-Visualization And Student Evaluations: Male Profs Are Brilliant And Funny; Female Profs Are Mean And Rude

Chronicle of Higher Education, What a Data-Visualization Tool Tells Us About How Students See Their Professors:

Student evaluations of teaching are both widely used and, as a host of studies have shown, deeply flawed. They don’t measure teaching quality particularly well. They also reflect students’ bias, in that women and minorities tend to receive more critical evaluations. The problem is significant enough that 18 scholarly associations signed onto a statement in September asking colleges to not rely on them heavily in determining teaching effectiveness.

Thanks to Ben Schmidt, a clinical associate professor of history and director of digital humanities at New York University, we also have an interesting way to visualize the differences in the ways that students evaluate male and female professors. And we can see how different disciplines are described.

A few years ago, Schmidt mined 14 million reviews on RateMyProfessors to create an interactive tool, Gendered Language in Teacher Reviews. Plug a term into the chart and you can see how many times per million words of text it is used, broken down by gender and discipline. It’s a fascinating — and highly addictive — look at the way in which students perceive their professors. 



Funny Rude

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Look carefully at the graphs. They’ve reordered the categories on each to make it look like a consistent bias. Garbage work.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 30, 2019 11:37:34 AM

@Northeastern Umm... that sounds intelligent in the abstract, but is obviously a waste of time because the pretty graphs above match the results from evaluation surveys.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 30, 2019 11:31:57 AM

Seven comments and none of them touch upon the bias sampling built into Rate My Professors. How many students use it? What percentage of any given class or professor do they represent? Do most students who write reviews on RMP either hold a grudge or are attempting to brownnose? All unknown. GIGO, people.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 29, 2019 12:07:02 PM

But women are ahead on "supportive" and "organized." Men are ahead on "sarcastic" and "weird."

Women are ahead on both "helpful" and "unhelpful." Go figure.

"Inspiring" is a push.

Posted by: Sparky | Nov 28, 2019 7:19:31 PM

They forgot a little detail, most students are women

Posted by: jkl | Nov 28, 2019 6:50:41 AM

This it troll gold. Sorry ladies, you will be seeing these visualizations a lot over the next few years.

Posted by: motionview | Nov 28, 2019 6:30:11 AM

But, but, what about all the other genders?!!!

Posted by: AKM | Nov 28, 2019 5:06:09 AM

Quote: "They also reflect students’ bias, in that women and minorities tend to receive more critical evaluations."

That's the dogma, but is it true? Why blame the students when the problem may lie with the professors. There's an incredible amount of consistency in the data. For all the fields and all the categories, male professors come out ahead. They're more brilliant, less mean, more funny and less rude. That suggests that the data is measuring something real rather than mere student bias. And keep in mind that with women outnumbering men in college, a lot of those negative votes for women must be coming from other women and some of the greatest men/women gaps come in fields where the student body is heavily female, i.e. "brilliant" for English and Humanities.

I wonder if much of what's being measured is not "bias" but women students perceiving more hostility from women professors than men professors—and that perception being rooted in a reality that those women professor really are displaying more hostility to their women students, seen as competitors, than to men students. That's precisely what happens in many work environments and it has been called queen bee syndrome.

Queen bee syndrome: Queen bee syndrome was first defined by G.L. Staines, T.E. Jayaratne, and C. Tavris in 1973. It describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female. This phenomenon has been documented by several studies. In another study, scientists from the University of Toronto speculated that the queen bee syndrome may be the reason that women find it more stressful to work for female managers; no difference was found in stress levels for male workers.An alternate, though closely related, definition describes a queen bee as one who has succeeded in her career, but refuses to help other women do the same.

I grow tired of our culture's lopsided blame system, one where certain categories of people are always blamed while others get a free pass. Maybe enough female professors are "mean and rude," particularly to their female students, to give these results. Maybe it is an accurate perception rather than student bias.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Nov 28, 2019 4:46:44 AM

Does it ever occur to people that, if women and minorities are hired preferentially to white males, it is entirely possible that they are actually less qualified?

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Nov 28, 2019 2:59:00 AM

I was starting to miss these stories. I need at least one "X is due to Yism" story per month. Thank you for coming through, TaxProf Blog!

I like how the starting point for all these stories is that the survey takers are mistaken or incorrect. Without any proof.

Since the majority of college students are Democrats, does that mean most college-aged Democrats are racist and sexist?! That brainwashing simply isn't getting through, cultural Marxists! Redouble your efforts!!!

Posted by: Anon | Nov 27, 2019 2:37:36 PM