Student Evaluations Fast and Slow: It's Time to Integrate Teachers' Nonverbal Behavior in Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness

Abstract

Two paradigms measuring teaching effectiveness in higher education—one focusing on instructional behaviors (SET), and the other, on teachers' nonverbal and verbal immediacy (NVI-VI)—have been estranged from each other for decades despite their common focus on teaching effectiveness. To juxtapose the two paradigms, both SET and NVI-VI questionnaires were administered at separate times in courses taught by 183 college instructors. Correlations between the two measures were extremely high (up to r = 0.72), and a PCA yielded a strong and highly reliable first un-rotated component, indicating that the same underlying construct of "teaching effectiveness" was validly measured by both paradigms. Two clear components emerged after rotation, representing clear SET and NVI factors. Following median splits into a 2 × 2 table, consonant status of individual instructors on both SET and NVI-VI (being either "High/High" or "Low/Low") was found for 73% of the 183 instructors, but over a quarter of the sample demonstrated dissonant status, equally distributed between being "High SET/Low NVI-VI" or "Low SET/High NVI-VI." The NVI measurement administered in the 5th week of the semester predicted effectively the SET global evaluation at the end of the course. A theory of "Student Evaluations Fast and Slow" was proposed (following Kahneman's theorizing), where the early "fast" NVI precedes the later "slow" reasoned SET, leading to a rich, integrated picture of teaching effectiveness.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to extend their gratitude to Eyal Gamliel, Refael Tikochinski and Robert Rosenthal for their valuable help.

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Correspondence to Ronen Hammer.

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This paper is dedicated to the memory of John Darley, a dear friend and collaborator in experimental research combining basic social psychology and students' evaluations of teachers.

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Babad, E., Sahar-Inbar, L., Hammer, R. et al. Student Evaluations Fast and Slow: It's Time to Integrate Teachers' Nonverbal Behavior in Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness. J Nonverbal Behav 45, 321–338 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-021-00364-4

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Keywords

  • Students' evaluations of teaching
  • Teacher enthusiasm
  • Nonverbal immediacy
  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Fast and slow systems