Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Student Evaluations of Teaching in Dual Encounter Situations

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Student Evaluations of Teaching in Dual Encounter Situations

Article excerpt

LITERATURE REVIEW

Student evaluations of teaching (SETs) play a significant role in faculty performance evaluations, contract renewals, and promotion and tenure decisions. As such, they have received considerable attention in academic research, with efforts to create better evaluation instruments (e.g., Centra 2006; Marsh & Hocevar 1984), understand the pros and cons of their use (e.g., Mason, et al. 2002; Pinto & Mansfield 2010), and identify factors which affect the scores received by instructors (e.g., Parayitam, et al. 2007; Thornton, et al. 2010). Previous factors of interest in student evaluation research include instructor and student gender (Whitworth, et al. 2002), day and time of course offering (Centra 1993), course subject or discipline (Whitworth, et al. 2002), and perceived ease of course (Thornton, et al. 2010), to name a few.

More recently, research has begun to expand beyond the factors typically assessed during student evaluations of teaching (SETs). Of particular interest is a study by Pinto and Mansfield (2010), which seeks to understand the thought processes used by students in approaching and completing SETs. The study explores two distinct approaches taken by students: System One or System Two. A System One approach is typically "hurried, superficial, effortless, and charged with emotions" (Pinto and Mansfield, 2010, p. 55). In contrast, a System Two approach can result in "slower, more deliberate, thoughtful evaluations" (Pinto and Mansfield, 2010, p. 55).

The authors utilized a number of focus groups comprised of undergraduate business students. The students were asked several questions, some of which correspond to typical items on a SET survey. Overall, they found 59% of the responses were aligned with a System One approach. For several items, such as 'rate the overall quality of the instructor or course', the percentages were even higher. Thus, it appears students rely heavily on emotional elements, such as like or dislike of an instructor or dissatisfaction associated with a class or teaching approach. This singular, emotional approach, taken by students in evaluating teaching effectiveness has been posited in other studies of SETs as well (e.g. D Pollonia & Abrami 1997; Trebinski 1985). Glynn, Saver and Wood (2006) discuss this occurrence and note that "people often resort to decision strategies that simplify the task and reduce the amount of cognitive effort required to make the evaluation" (p.52).

Yet another research stream has explored the relationships between instructor trust and teaching related factors. For example, Jaasma & Koper (1999) explore the relationship between instructor trust and out-of-class communication. Trust was found to be positively correlated with both the frequency of informal contact between students and instructor as well as with student satisfaction with the out-of-class communication. Nadler and Nadler (1995) demonstrated a positive correlation between instructor trustworthiness and positive evaluations of the instructor by students.

Given the System One approach that is predominant among student evaluators, one would anticipate that a characteristic such as trust would play a role in dual encounter situations between students and instructor. One might further expect that the development of trust in a first course would positively impact student evaluations in the second course. As in many buyersupplier relationships, trust may increase over time (Dwyer, Schurr, and Oh 1987; Morgan and Hunt 1994). If this occurs, factoring in the System I approach, we would expect SETs in the second course to be higher than in the first course.

This leads to the following sets of hypotheses:

Hi0: Student evaluations of teaching effectiveness do not differ significantly across multiple courses taught by the same instructor.

Hia: Student evaluations of teaching effectiveness do differ significantly across multiple courses taught by the same instructor, with evaluations in the second course being higher than those in the first course. …

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