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Evaluating students’ evaluations of professors

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  • Michela Braga
  • Marco Paccagnella
  • Michele Pellizzari

Abstract

This paper contrasts measures of teacher effectiveness with the students’ evaluations for the same teachers using administrative data from Bocconi University (Italy). The effectiveness measures are estimated by comparing the subsequent performance in follow-on coursework of students who are randomly assigned to teachers in each of their compulsory courses. We find that, even in a setting where the syllabuses are fixed, teachers still matter substantially. The average difference in subsequent performance between students who were assigned to the best and worst teachers (on the effectiveness scale) is approximately 43% of a standard deviation in the distribution of exam grades, corresponding to about 5.6% of the average grade. Additionally, we find that our measure of teacher effectiveness is negatively correlated with the students’ evaluations of professors: in other words, teachers who are associated with better subsequent performance receive worst evaluations from their students. We rationalize these results with a simple model where teachers can either engage in real teaching or in teaching-to-the-test, the former requiring higher students’ effort than the latter. Teaching-to-the-test guarantees high grades in the current course but does not improve future outcomes. Hence, if students are myopic and evaluate better teachers from which they derive higher utility in a static framework, the model is capable of predicting our empirical finding that good teachers receive bad evaluations, especially when teaching-to-the-test is very effective. Consistently with the predictions of the model, we also find that classes in which high skill students are over-represented produce evaluations that are less at odds with estimated teacher effectiveness.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 384.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:384

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  1. Barrington-Leigh, Christopher P, 2008. "Weather as a transient influence on survey-reported satisfaction with life," MPRA Paper 25736, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Scott E. Carrell & James E. West, 2010. "Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(3), pages 409-432, 06.
  3. Chetty, Raj & Friedman, John Norton & Hilger, Nathanial & Saez, Emmanuel & Schanzenbach, Dianne Whitmore & Yagan, Danny, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," Scholarly Articles 9639983, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  4. Jesse Rothstein, 2009. "Student Sorting and Bias in Value-Added Estimation: Selection on Observables and Unobservables," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 4(4), pages 537-571, October.
  5. Giacomo De Giorgi & Michele Pellizzari & William Gui Woolston, 2012. "Class Size And Class Heterogeneity," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 795-830, 08.
  6. Giacomo De Giorgi & Michele Pellizzari & Silvia Redaelli, 2010. "Identification of Social Interactions through Partially Overlapping Peer Groups," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 241-75, April.
  7. John H. Tyler & Eric S. Taylor & Thomas J. Kane & Amy L. Wooten, 2010. "Using Student Performance Data to Identify Effective Classroom Practices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 256-60, May.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Students hate good teachers
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-05-12 14:22:00
  2. Bra men impopulära föreläsare
    by Niclas Berggren in Nonicoclolasos on 2011-05-28 03:05:49
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Cited by:
  1. Beleche, Trinidad & Fairris, David & Marks, Mindy, 2012. "Do course evaluations truly reflect student learning? Evidence from an objectively graded post-test," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 709-719.
  2. Braga, Michela & Paccagnella, Marco & Pellizzari, Michele, 2014. "The Academic and Labor Market Returns of University Professors," IZA Discussion Papers 7902, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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