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Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 517–537 | Cite as

Faculty attitudes about student evaluations and their relations to self-image as teacher

  • Ronen HammerEmail author
  • Eyal Peer
  • Elisha Babad
Article

Abstract

With the worldwide implementation of students’ evaluation of teaching (SET), faculty attitudes and trust in students’ feedback as well as possible defensive (i.e., self-protective) motivations seem most relevant to the facilitation of the primary organizational goal of SET, namely, teaching improvement. A questionnaire—administered to 2241 faculty members of all ranks in two dozen varied institutions—measured positive attitudes and trust, on the one hand, and beliefs in salient negative faculty SET myths, on the other hand. The most widely-held negative attitudes concerned student fallibilities: vindictiveness; lack of maturity; and negative evaluations of low-achieving students. Despite believing in myths, more than half of the respondents reported trusting SET, thought that it accurately reflected their teaching performance, and considered SET-based feedback useful. A derived index comparing self-evaluations to reported students’ evaluations demonstrated that more than a third of the participants rated their own quality of teaching higher than the ratings they reported typically receiving from their students. This ‘underestimated’ group believed more intensely in SET myths and mistrusted it, which suggests a possible self-protective motivation underlying faculty attitudes. A subgroup of 9% felt strongly underestimated by their students, and a series of comparisons gave clear indications that, for this group of hard-core disgruntled faculty members, the administration of SET questionnaires and the provision of SET feedback are counter-productive. Insights from this research might encourage academic administrations to improve the implementation of SET measurement to increase faculty receptiveness and trust.

Keywords

Students’ evaluations of teaching (SET) Faculty beliefs Faculty trust Instructors’ self-image Faculty demoralization 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Efrat Sa’ar, Yehonatan Benayoun and Itamar Shabtai, and the numerous friends and colleagues, Deans and members of the Israeli Forum of Faculty Development Centers in the various colleges and universities, who facilitated the administration of the research in their institutions.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Instructional TechnologiesHolon Institute of TechnologyHolonIsrael
  2. 2.Graduate School of Business AdministrationBar Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  3. 3.School of EducationHebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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