American Sociological Association

Reconsidering Student Evaluations of Teaching

STATEMENT FROM THE AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

Washington, DC:  A formal statement issued by the American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org/studentevaluations), and endorsed by 17 other scholarly associations, describes the current use of student evaluations of teaching as “problematic” and identifies ways to use student feedback appropriately as one part of holistic assessment of teaching effectiveness in institutions of higher education.

A large body of research has demonstrated that student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are weakly related to student learning and are often biased against women and people of color.  In this statement, the ASA provides a brief summary of the current research and notes that SETs systematically disadvantage faculty from marginalized groups. This has consequences for who gets hired, who gets tenure, and whose contracts are renewed.

The statement encourages colleges and universities to consider different methods of evaluating teaching and also highlights several institutions that are exploring alternatives. These include renaming SETs to indicate that student feedback is important, but not determinative of teaching quality or effectiveness, and initiating processes that include or heighten the importance of peer review and self-evaluation.

“ASA encourages institutions to use evidence-based best practices for collecting and using student feedback about teaching. Our hope and expectation is that this statement will be used as a resource by faculty and chairs to begin conversations on their own campuses,” said Nancy Kidd, Executive Director of the ASA.  “Particularly at a time when faculty are facing new challenges to their work and their job security, they deserve a fair, accurate and balanced evaluation process.”  
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About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non‐profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

 

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