Faculty Alleged 'Myths' About Student Evaluation of Teaching: An Empirical Assessment
Journal of Education Psychology, Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 4 May 2015 Last revised: 12 May 2015
Date Written: 2015
A long list of myths has been attributed to faculty members regarding Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) over recent decades. However, curiously, data has never been provided validating the claimed spread of these beliefs. In this study, we used a large and diverse sample (N=2,241) of faculty members from numerous institutions to examine the extent to which instructors actually hold myths criticizing SET. Our findings suggest that, indeed, myth-holding is not monolithic. Whereas about half of our respondents believed in eight out of a list of 13 myths, about a third of them did not support these eight myths. The most widely-held myths concerned student fallibilities: vindictiveness, lack of maturity, and negative evaluations of low-achieving students. Interestingly, despite believing in numerous myths, most of the respondents reported trusting SET, finding it useful, and thinking that SET measurement is relevant for promotion and tenure decisions. Regression analyses indicated that seniority predicted the intensity of belief in myths, senior faculty holding more intense beliefs compared to junior faculty. In addition, more than a third of the participants rated the quality of their teaching higher than the ratings they typically receive from their students. This group, who felt under-estimated by their students, also believed more intensely in myths, compared to the rest of the respondents. This suggests that belief in myths might be self-serving, enabling lecturers to maintain self-esteem. Familiarity with faculty members’ concerns regarding SET might help teaching improvement practitioners develop better understanding of their target population.
Keywords: Student evaluation of teaching (SET), faculty beliefs, perceived bias, faculty myths
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