Evaluating Students' Evaluations of Professors

64 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2012

See all articles by Michela Braga

Michela Braga

Bocconi University

Marco Paccagnella

Bank of Italy

Michele Pellizzari

University of Geneva - GSEM; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 14, 2011


This paper contrasts measures of teacher effectiveness with the students’ evaluations of the same teachers using administrative data from Bocconi University (Italy). The effectiveness measures are estimated by comparing the subsequent performance in follow-on coursework of students who are randomly assigned to teachers in each of their compulsory courses. We find that, even in a setting where the syllabuses are fixed, teachers still matter substantially. Additionally, we find that our measure of teacher effectiveness is negatively correlated with the students’ evaluations of professors: in other words, teachers who are associated with better subsequent performance receive worse evaluations from their students. We rationalize these results with a simple model where teachers can either engage in real teaching or in teaching-to-the-test, the former requiring greater student effort than the latter. Teaching-to-the-test guarantees high grades in the current course but does not improve future outcomes. Hence, if students are short-sighted and give better evaluations to teachers from whom they derive higher utility in a static framework, the model is capable of predicting our empirical finding that good teachers receive bad evaluations.

Keywords: teacher quality, postsecondary education

JEL Classification: I20

Suggested Citation

Braga, Michela and Paccagnella, Marco and Pellizzari, Michele, Evaluating Students' Evaluations of Professors (October 14, 2011). Bank of Italy Temi di Discussione (Working Paper) No. 825. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2004361 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2004361

Michela Braga

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen, 1
Milan, 20136

Marco Paccagnella (Contact Author)

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184

Michele Pellizzari

University of Geneva - GSEM ( email )

102 Bd Carl-Vogt
Genève, CH - 1205

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

United Kingdom

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