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Student Evaluation of Teaching. Is it valid?

Elham Alshammari


Background: Many institutions of higher learning use student evaluations of teachers (SETs) as one of the requirements for employment decisions. However, the validity of SETs has been called into question using several legal measures of faculty capability. Apart from validity, SETs also tend to suffer from gender bias issues. Purpose: The current study sought to investigate the faculty’s experience and opinions towards SETs as an assessment tool for teaching competency. Basic procedures: A mixed-methods approach was used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data from the study sample, which consisted of 15 pharmacy faculty. Specifically, a questionnaire was used containing close and open-ended questions. Main findings: In sum, the findings from the study were as follows. Most teachers believed that they received positive feedback from SET assessments. A larger percentage of the teachers also believed that the students treated them with respect. A majority of teachers encountered negative comments in their evaluation. Many teachers were not sure whether the comments made during their evaluation were honest and representative. Lastly, most pharmacy faculty thought that SET was an invalid tool and did not support its use in the evaluation of their performance. Principle conclusion: Student evaluation of teaching is invalid from the faculty's point of view and should be avoided. Alternatives proposed in this study is the use of teacher self-evaluation together with peer evaluation, random pre- and post-tests, ungraded pop quizzes, audio response systems before and after teaching sessions, and class participation.

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