Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Effect of Teacher Communication and Course Content on Student Satisfaction and Effectiveness

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Effect of Teacher Communication and Course Content on Student Satisfaction and Effectiveness

Article excerpt


The effectiveness of student evaluation of faculty (SEF) has received increasing attention from the academics. In light of this, the present study advances the contributions to the literature in two ways: a) it provides a conceptualization of the constructs in a SEF instrument by discriminant and convergent validity and reliability of the measures, and (b) simultaneous analysis of instructorwise and class-level analysis of correlates of evaluations. This study examined the relative influence of class-level and individual-level perceptions of communication, course content, fairness in grading exams on perceived satisfaction and effectiveness of instructors. Based on the SEF instrument used in a university in south, the present study provides some interesting insights. The results from the analysis of 4186 students and 35 instructors indicated that students' perceptions of teacher's communication skills in the class room and course content set by the instructor were positively related to both effectiveness and satisfaction. The results also suggest that the exams (i.e. perceived fairness of the instructor's grading procedures) moderate the relationships between communication, course content and student satisfaction with instructor's teaching and students' perception of teacher effectiveness. The results of hierarchical regression results show validity of the instrument used by the students in evaluating the teacher effectiveness. The results support the view that student evaluation instruments need to be taken seriously rather than a mere ritual.

Key Words: Student evaluations, Teacher effectiveness, Perceptions of grading


It is a widely accepted practice for all the American Colleges and universities to use student evaluation of faculty (SEF) to measure instructional effectiveness of teachers. Literature review on SEF reveal both positive and negative side of the evaluation. On the positive side, academicians argue that the SEF are highly reliable, moderately valid, and assist teachers in improving the methods of instruction subsequently. Available empirical evidence suggests that students ratings can lead to changes in course delivery and thus more favorable student evaluations (McKeachie, 1996). Meta analysis and review articles conclude that students ratings are acceptably reliable and valid indicators of teaching effectiveness that can lead to modest improvements in teaching (Braskamp & Ory, 1994). Personality is correlated to instructor's class room behavior and educational goals which in turn are related to teaching effectiveness.

On the other hand, critics argue that (i) SEF are biased in that students tend to give higher ratings when they expect higher grades in the course (called grading leniency bias), (ii) SEF encourage teachers to dumb down courses to keep students happy at all costs, (iii) SEF ratings are often influenced by the cosmetic factors that have no effect on student learning, and (iv) SEF are a threat to academic freedom in the sense teachers may feel inhibited from discussing controversial ideas and presenting challenging questions to students because they fear that students may express disagreement through the SEF (Braskamp & Ory, 1994).

Critics also argue that 'why teacher effectiveness is defined in terms of 'student satisfaction' and 'why are faculty so willing to trust judgments made by students in areas beyond their competence to judge?' (Gray & Bergmann, 2005). Some scholars suggest that (a) do not use student ratings as the only measure of teaching effectiveness as they do not provide evidence in all areas relevant to teacher effectiveness (e.g., command of subject matter, appropriateness of course content and objectives). Perhaps some other useful sources to assess teacher effectiveness are instructor's teaching portfolio and student's actual achievements; (b) make the SEF be 'achievement' oriented rather than 'satisfaction' oriented. …

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