Teaching Evaluation at a Public Institution of Higher Education: Factors Related to the Overall Teaching Effectiveness

By Tang, Thomas Li-Ping | Public Personnel Management, Fall 1997 | Go to article overview
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Teaching Evaluation at a Public Institution of Higher Education: Factors Related to the Overall Teaching Effectiveness


Tang, Thomas Li-Ping, Public Personnel Management


For the past several decades, teaching evaluation has been examined by many researchers in the literature. Evaluation of teaching effectiveness will continue to be an interesting topic for faculty members, students, and researchers in the years to come.(1)

Teaching effectiveness has been examined by researchers in many countries around the world. For example, based on a sample of university students in Spain, Fernandez and Mateo identified two major factors related to students' evaluation of university teaching quality: Teaching competence and motivational skills.(2) Four factors have been identified using 2,785 students in a university in Thailand: Teaching method, teacher-student relationship, text and materials, and evaluation and feedback. It has been noted that a valid student evaluation of instructor instrument should contain the following factors:

* organization and clarity of presentation;

* teacher-student interaction or rapport;

* communication skill;

* workload or course difficulty;

* fairness of grading and examinations;

* student self-rated accomplishments; and

* a global student rating.(3)

Teaching evaluation seems to be an important topic. However, there are two important issues related to teaching effectiveness. The first issue is related to the accuracy of evaluations. Therefore, the major concern is related to the reliability and validity of the measuring instrument itself. Most faculty members and administrators expressed a great mistrust of student ratings.(4) Gomez-Mejia and Balkin stated that "teaching ratings by students do not reflect true teaching performance; they are basically a popularity contest" (p. 947).(5) Thereby, many people do not think that teaching evaluation is reliable and valid.

Baird has found that a considerably larger portion of rating variance can be explained by students' subjective assessment of learning than by actual course grades.(6) Students' perceived learning correlated .88 with course evaluations and .86 with instructor evaluations. Baird further pointed out that the statistics were not reduced by partialling out the effects of anticipated letter grade, which preserved the idea that leniency or student characteristics could account for at least a small portion of the rating-grade effect.

Ikponmwosa found that students' evaluations of the instructors were not significantly influenced by knowledge of their grades.(7) Thus, students can be expected to evaluate their instructors objectively. Marsh and Hocevar found that students' ratings of 6,024 classes by 195 teachers did not change significantly over the 13-year period.(8) Based on these data, it appears that students' evaluations of teach performance are very stable and consistent over time.

The second issue deals with the usefulness of teaching evaluation. That is, the extent to which the results of teaching evaluation will be used by administrators for personnel decisions (i.e., tenure, promotion, and merit pay). From the perspective of the reward and control systems in major universities, some of the questions a professor may ask are: What does it mean if I have high teaching effectiveness? Does it pay to be an effective professor in classrooms? Based on Vroom's valence-instrumentality-expectancy (VIE) theory of motivation, is teaching effectiveness instrumental in achieving a professor's career, financial, and personal goals?(9)

It has been found that based on a sample of 134 administrators and 196 faculty members of six universities, administrators tended to have a strong emphasis that both research and teaching are important, while faculty members felt that they need to have particular strength in one or the other.(10) There is no strong relationship between teaching and faculty pay.(11) Thus, some may argue that there is very little financial incentive for excellence in teaching.(12)

In an award-winning article, Gomez-Mejia and Balkin found that agency theory can be meaningfully used to analyze internal control relationships between allocators (principals) and those receiving allocations (agents).

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