Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts - School Psychology


Human Services

First Advisor

Dr. Robbie Steward

Second Advisor

Dr. Luis Aguerrevere

Third Advisor

Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Sarah Savoy


Teaching evaluations significantly influence faculty members’ annual evaluations and progress toward tenure and promotion within academic programs in higher education. Those with consistently strong, positive, teaching evaluations have been deemed effective instructors and often validated with increases in salary, teaching awards, and promotion and tenure. This is especially the case when strong course evaluations are received in addition to documented scholarship and research activities and positively evaluated professional service. However, questions are being raised about the meaningfulness of students' ratings of course instruction. Do these measures effectively assess competence as instructors or do they measure other unknown processes in the perceptions of students that should not be considered relevant in the annual review process for academicians or validated with promotion and secured employment longevity. Some argue that teaching evaluations primarily reflect the likability of the faculty. It is purported that students rate more positively those faculty who grade less rigorously, who are more lenient, accessible and friendly; while faculty who have high standards and focus on the content and information delivery are penalized in the process. On the other hand, advocates of the current tradition argue that the measures are accurate reflection of both teaching efficacy and effectiveness. The topic has become somewhat controversial in blogs, promotion and tenure committees, and in the Chronicles of Higher Education, however, the practice of including course evaluations in faculty evaluations persists. The purpose of this study is to add to the literature by providing a more in-depth examination of the meaning of course evaluations. Analyses were performed to address the following research question: “To what degree do faculty demographics, academic background, academic status, professional engagement, course grading patterns, and course characteristics predict the variance in overall course evaluation, standard deviation, and response rates?” Collected data consisted of course evaluations of 286 Human Services-related courses, information collected from curriculum vitae of 55 faculty members, during one academic year in an independent, regional institution with a student population of ~ 13,000 located in the southwestern region of the USA. Analysis of this data indicated that faculty academic background significantly predicted the variance in overall course evaluations and standard deviations. Results from this study may assist with policy development regarding promotion and tenure and more effective procedures for the evaluation of course instruction.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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