Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fish fun

Stanley Fish is often a riot. Here, in the NY Times the other day, he is provocative and right on - discussing student evaluations of professors. Now, there is in my view, an important role for student evaluations, but as one commentator says in response to Fish, "the popular is not necessarily the good." Popular teachers are not necessarily the best, which (again to qualify what needs qualifying) does not mean that unpopular is good either.

But the practice of evaluating faculty teaching based on student evaluations alone, which is (I'm afraid to say) the practice at Concordia, is not good. Faculty teaching should be evaluated to include assessment by senior faculty - who may be more immune to fashionable trends in teaching.


THIS popped up c/o Eric Mankiw's blog more recently from an interesting study that he links here:

Results show that there are statistically significant and sizable differences in student achievement across introductory course professors in both contemporaneous and follow‐on course achievement. However, our results indicate that professors who excel at promoting contemporaneous student achievement, on average, harm the subsequent performance of their students in more advanced classes. Academic rank, teaching experience, and terminal degree status of professors are negatively correlated with contemporaneous value‐added but positively correlated with follow on course value‐added. Hence, students of less experienced instructors who do not possess a doctorate perform significantly better in the contemporaneous course but perform worse in the follow‐on related curriculum.

Student evaluations are positively correlated with contemporaneous professor value‐added and negatively correlated with follow‐on student achievement. That is, students appear to reward higher grades in the introductory course but punish professors who increase deep learning (introductory course professor value‐added in follow‐on courses). Since many U.S. colleges and universities use student evaluations as a measurement of teaching quality for academic promotion and tenure decisions, this latter finding draws into question the value and accuracy of this practice.

In other words (C/o Wapo)

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