Part 2 of ethical issues with student evaluations of teaching: Now what?

Key Insight:

In my column last month, I wrote about some of the ethical issues with student evaluations of teaching (SET), using Quinn’s competing values model. Among my top concerns are serious and documented validity issues with SET instruments, as well as how external stakeholders may use SET data as a big stick to weed out faculty who offer unpopular or controversial viewpoints, or who may be judged as ineffective based on this single (mostly invalid) instrument. In this column, I want to talk more about the “now what?” aspect of SETs.

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It’s not just Rate My Professor anymore! Ethical issues with student evaluations of teaching (SET)

Key Insight:

In this column, I want to examine the thorny and multi-dimensional ethical issues around student evaluations of teaching (SET). Using Quinn’s Competing Values framework to guide the conversation, I look at who uses SETs, who wants to use them, and ethical issues of context, competing concerns, and most saliently, validity problems. I also consider how we use SET data—whether formatively or summatively—and what process assurances we may owe our colleagues to improve their teaching practice. I finish with a brief conversation with Gustavus’ Associate Provost and Dean Darrin Good, who is heading up our SET modification effort, and as usual, some discussion questions.

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In loco parentis, 2013-style and beyond

Key Insight: With a host of significant external forces pushing for change in academic institutions, the entire enterprise of teaching and learning has come under the microscope. Long-established and widespread teaching practices are increasingly considered obsolete in terms of adding clear value to students’ collegiate learning experience. In this column I explore some of those key forces, and the ethical ramifications of compelling changes we must make in teaching and learning. Specifically, I want to talk about what those changes mean for adding value to students’ college experience, and the way we must help our colleagues re-imagine and re-tool their teaching practice. In rethinking what “college” means, professors can remain compellingly relevant to students’ learning and college experience.

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