Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Investigating Student Evaluation of Teachers by Using Latent Class Analysis:: A Case Study at a Tertiary Level

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Investigating Student Evaluation of Teachers by Using Latent Class Analysis:: A Case Study at a Tertiary Level

Article excerpt

Evrim Üstünlüoglu1,* & Duygu Güngör-Culha2

1School of Foreign Languages, Izmir University of Economics, Sakarya Street No:156 35330 Balçova Izmir, Turkey

2 Department of Psychology, Izmir University, Gürsel Aksel No:14 Izmir, Turkey

*Corresponding author: Evrim Üstünlüoglu, School of Foreign Languages, Izmir University of Economics, Sakarya Street No:156 35330 Balçova Izmir, Turkey. E-mail: evrim.ustunluoglu@ieu.edu.tr

Received: May 16, 2012 Accepted: June 19, 2012 Published: September 22, 2012

doi:10.5296/ije.v4i3.1811 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5296/ije.v4i3.1811

Abstract

Student evaluations of teaching and teacher (SET) have become the focus of extensive data collection, due to high levels of competition in education. Yet, analysis of the data collected from students has been relatively neglected in favor of evaluation. Furthermore, heterogeneity of student population with different academic background may require advanced statistical techniques, such as Latent Class Analysis (LCA), used in the context of Latent Variable Models, to disclose latent classes or structures by the manifest variables. The purpose of the study is to identify distinct groups of students based on their SET ratings and use the LCA method to discover whether there is a discrepancy in the identified classes in terms of level of success and gender. The study also aims to present a descriptive examination regarding the students who evaluated the instructors and which classes they belonged to. The following three conclusions have been drawn from this research; that different typological structures of student exist in the institution, that there are differences in the identified classes in terms of gender, and that, regardless of whether they were successful or not, students were generally positive about teachers.

Keywords: Student evaluation; Teaching; Latent Class Analysis

1. Introduction

In spite of disagreement over consequences regarding their positive and negative impact on teaching and learning, Student Evaluations of Teaching and Teachers (SET) have been widely used, particularly in tertiary institutions for years (Jones, 1989; Ory & Ryan, 2001). Thus, the feedback from students has become common and is regarded as valuable for many institutions. Studies have mainly focused on the factors which might have an impact on validity and reliability of student evaluations, defining three major categories: instructor-level, subject-level and student-level (Pozo-Munoz, Rebolloso-Pacheco & Fernandez-Ramirez, 2000).

Instructor- level factors are summarized as instructors' use of class time, availability outside class time, how well they assess student learning or understanding, concern for students' welfare and performance, the extent to which they emphasize analytical or critical skills, preparedness, and tolerance of alternative viewpoints in class (Pozo-Munoz et al., 2000). According to Boex (2000), presentation and organizational skills, clarity of expression, how the instructor uses grading and assignments, intellectual capabilities, the ability to interact well with students, and the ability to motivate students are also important instructor level factors. A number of studies also highlight the significance of instructor personality for SET, including expertise, ability to motivate, management of student behavior, level of excitement, interpersonal skills, showing a caring nature, being systematic, and showing respect for students (Brown & Atkins, 1993; Lowman & Mathie, 1993; Patrick & Smart, 1998). In addition to these, instructor's reputation was also found to influence ratings, unlike title and position (Boex 2000; Jacobs 2002; Murray, Rushton & Paunonen, 1990; Shevlin et al., 2000).

Subject-level factors in evaluations of students include the time of the lesson, whether it is elective or a prerequisite, the level, perceived difficulty, and the size of the class (Neumann, 2000). …

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