What Determines Student Evaluation Scores? A Random Effects Analysis of Undergraduate Economics Classes
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Student evaluation scores are a standard component of the way colleges and universities assess the quality of an instructor's teaching for purposes of promotion and tenure, as well as merit raise allocations. This paper applies a feasible generalized least squares model to a panel of data from undergraduate economics classes. We find that instructors can “buy” better evaluation scores by inflating students’ grade expectations. Class size and instructor experience are important determinants of evaluation scores in principles classes, but not in upper-level courses. Male instructors get better scores than females, and younger instructors are more popular than older ones. Certain other factors are also important determinants of evaluation scores. Our results suggest that an adjustment to the usual departmental rankings may be useful.