Monday, June 14, 2010

Student evaluations and teacher quality

Think teaching at the Air Force Academy might not be rewarding? Think again. Scott Carrell and James West show that it pays off big time in terms of randomized trials in which students are exogenously assigned to instructors. Their research shows that students' evaluations of instructors and their current performance are positively related, while both are negatively related to students' future academic performance!

One interpretation they offer is that less experienced and less qualified professors might be "teaching to the test" more than others, so that current performance is higher but future performance is lower. The authors argue their "results show that student evaluations reward professors who increase achievement in the contemporaneous course being taught, not those who increase deep learning."