Making the grade with students: The case for accessibility
Student-based teaching evaluations are one critical component of instructor and course evaluation in most universities. The purpose of this study is to critically examine several factors that drive student-based ratings of instructors and courses in an undergraduate mechanical engineering program. The findings are based on a statistical study of student ratings in 181 mechanical engineering courses during a three and one-half year period, two mid-semester classroom interviews, and anecdotal evidence garnered from personal experience. A key rating that appears strongly linked with the overall instructor and course rating is the "accessibility of the instructor." The instructor accessibility factor outweighs others often cited by conventional wisdom, such as perceived course workload or expected grade in the course. Rationale for the strong correlation between instructor rating and perceived instructor accessibility is discussed. Several suggestions for how to improve instructor accessibility and resulting student-based teaching evaluations are provided.
Gall, K; Knight, DW; Carlson, LE; Sullivan, JF
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