Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Student Evaluation of High-School Teaching: Which Factors Are Associated with Teachers' Perception of the Usefulness of Being Evaluated?

Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Student Evaluation of High-School Teaching: Which Factors Are Associated with Teachers' Perception of the Usefulness of Being Evaluated?

Article excerpt

l.Introduction

Teacher evaluation1 is at the core of current education policies in many countries (OECD, 2009). The usefulness of teacher evaluations for the improvement of teaching depends upon the extent to which teachers respond to and use them. This study focuses on student ratings of teacher performance in Norwegian high schools. Student evaluation of teaching serves several outcomes: Student ratings of teacher performance have the potential to provide both administrative quality assurance of teaching as well as information needed to promote self-evaluation and reflection upon one's teaching practice, which promotes personal growth and learning. These dual aims may create an unresolved tension (Penny, 2003). However, the usefulness of student ratings of teacher performance is linked to teachers' attitudes towards the evaluation scheme. The purpose of this article is to explore the strength of the statistical associations between how teachers perceive the usefulness of student ratings of teacher performance (teaching evaluation) as the dependent variable and the following independent variables: perceived purposes of evaluation, communication with leaders and acknowledgement of the feedback provided by students.

The actual use of student ratings for formative purposes often falls short of its potential. We presume that the effectiveness of students' evaluations may be related to teachers' perceptions of usefulness: If teachers deny the importance of student feedback, we cannot expect that student feedback to contribute significantly to their personal or professional development. However, if teachers take the feedback from students seriously, we can expect that they may also fi nd it useful. Therefore, usefulness is linked to teachers' attitudes towards student ratings of teacher performance, and the perception of usefulness is a possible precursor for improving educational practices and for professional development. This study attempts to answer the following research question: Which variables are associated with teachers' perception of the usefulness of the evaluations?

2.Background

Teacher evaluation is part of an international trend in which different means to evaluate teachers' educational practices have been implemented in schools in a number of countries since the start of the millennium (Isoré, 2009).2 Systems in which students provide ratings of teacher performance are ultimately aimed at improving the educational performance of teachers and thereby furthering student learning. Anonymous surveys of students are an uncommon method to evaluate teachers' educational practice (Stronge, 2010). It is therefore essential to investigate what factors are statistically associated with teachers' perceptions of the usefulness of this form of student feedback.

Some local and national education authorities emphasize the summative component of ratings: The results of student ratings of teacher performance may include administrative monitoring of the teachers' educational performance, and when the results measured at the school level are collated in internet portals (and/ or reported in the media), student satisfaction with teaching is turned into a quality indicator that can be used as an argument in support of the quality of schools, as well as to monitor quality development. Quality measures can be thus used to market particular schools to present and future students and their parents as well as providing evidence for institutional accountability for local politicians. From a perspective that emphasizes the professional development of teachers, student ratings of teacher performance can contribute to self-evaluation and reflection upon one's teaching practice, promoting personal growth and learning (DarlingHammond, Wise, & Pease, 1983; Darling-Hammond, 2013; Day, Flores, & Viana, 2007). However, the proposal to introduce student ratings of teacher performance in schools has met with resistance (Avalos & Assael, 2006; Flores, 2010; Elstad, Lejonberg, & Christophersen, 2015), and the claim that a teacher's teaching evaluation data, value-added data and observation data could promote professional development remains controversial (Isoré, 2009; Smylie, 2014). …

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