Factors which influence student evaluation of teaching ratings

Year: 1996

Author: Adams, Moya, Neumann, Ruth, Rytmeister, Cathy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

When university teachers interpret their ratings on student questionnaires evaluating teaching, factors other than their own teaching may affect the evaluations. Research has been directed towards understanding these factors since the seventies, but most of it has occurred in the USA, and does not necessarily apply to the Australian university context.

This paper reports on research conducted at Macquarie University on data from the Student Evaluation of Teaching and Subjects (SETS) questionnaire, accumulated from 1989 to 1994. Specifically, the paper addresses the question of what teacher variables and teaching context variables influence students' ratings of teaching and whether the data at Macquarie is consistent with research elsewhere.

The analysis looks at the relationship between four aspects of teaching: communication, organisation, availability/accessibility and assessment/feedback and teacher variables (gender, position/experience and age) and context variables (discipline groups, class size, year level) to students' ratings of these aspects.

Four scales representing aspects of teaching were developed from the core questions of SETS using principal components analysis:. The paper firstly examines the relationship of teaching and secondly examines the relationship of ratings on to the global question on good teaching to each aspect of teaching.

While data concerning context variables was consistent with overseas data, there were some interesting differences in teacher variables. A significant finding was that gender differences at Macquarie reversed existing data, with female teachers rating significantly higher than male teachers across all scales.