Phi Beta Cons

Evaluating Evaluations

Student course evaluations have become one of the most widespread tools for assessing teachers and courses. That reliance on the opinions of students in the last few days of class might be mistaken — according to a new study by researchers affiliated with Boston University who discuss their work on the Pope Center site.

Their research shows that students evaluate classes much differently when surveyed at the time of graduation and five years after they graduate. Their evaluations at the time they are taking the class focus a great deal on the teacher: his or her personality, how hard he grades, and so on. When surveyed at later dates, former students become progressively more interested in whether the course provided them with the skills they needed to advance in their careers — no big shock there — and the teachers become less important.


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