Examining Student Evaluations of Black College Faculty: Does Race Matter?
Smith, Bettye P., Hawkins, Billy, The Journal of Negro Education
The purpose of this study was twofold. First, to describe the undergraduate student ratings of teaching effectiveness based on the traditional 36-item end-of-course evaluation form used in the College of Education (COE) at a southeastern Research Extensive predominantly White institution. Second, using critical race theory (CRT) to compare the teaching effectiveness for the tenure-track faculty in this study based on race (White, Black, and Other racial groups including Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans). Three academic years of undergraduate level courses were used to analyze student ratings for 28 items (26 multidimensional, which address specific topics or a single aspect about instruction and 2 global/overall, which address value of course and teaching ability) on the end-of-course evaluation form. Eight of the 36 items request demographic information from the student. The findings showed that of the three faculty racial groups, Black faculty mean scores were the lowest on the 26 multidimensional items. On the two global items, which are used in making personnel decisions, Black faculty mean scores were also the lowest of the faculty groups analyzed.
Keywords: student evaluations, race, faculty, Black faculty, predominantly White institutions
In the past twenty years, significant shifts in racial groups have been the norm for many states within the United States. Based on the 2006 Census data, several states have witnessed an increase in the presence of non- Whites including California (27%), New York (21%), New Jersey (19.5%), Florida (18.5%), and Nevada (17.4%) (Advertising Age's: American Demographics, 2006). In Georgia, 40% of the state's total population is comprised of nonWhites, and of this percentage, 30% are Black (U. S. Census Bureau, 2006). According to these statistics, the United States is becoming more racially and culturally diverse. Nevertheless, in higher education, there is a resistance to multicultural curricula (Chizhik & Chizhik, 2005; Grant, 1994) and racially diverse departments across the United States (Bromberg, 1993). A more racially diverse society indicates that colleges and universities must produce students who are prepared to navigate a racially and culturally diverse environment.
Many institutions of higher education have sought to increase the cultural and racial diversity among faculty members by recruiting and hiring faculty members from underrepresented groups (Orlans, 1992). This practice of recruiting and hiring conversely has created adverse situations at Research Extensive institutions where the mission is teaching, research, and service. The most noted and unexplored adverse situations are problems associated with teaching evaluations and diverse faculty, particularly Black faculty. A review of existing literature reveals a plethora of research and professional literature on course evaluations and teaching effectiveness. Furthermore, there is an existing body of research and professional literature on Black faculty and teaching experiences in higher education generally (Cooper, Massey, & Graham, 2006; Li & Beckett, 2006; Smith & Womble, 2000; Steward & Phelps, 2000) and in predominantly White institutions (PWIs) specifically (Allison, 2008; Hendrix, 2007; Stanley, 2006; Steward & Phelps, 2000; Vargas, 2002). However, a paucity of that literature includes quantitative course evaluations for Black faculty. In fact, Huston (2005) ascertained that there was relatively little in the way of empirical, quantitative research on the intersection of race and gender regarding course evaluations. Therefore, this study is designed to fill the void in the literature concerning quantitative student evaluations of teaching effectiveness for Black faculty.
Student evaluations are the most common form of evaluating teacher effectiveness among American universities (Cashin, 1988; Hobson & Talbot, 2001; Richardson, 2005; Wagenaar, 1995). …