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Estimating the impact of relative expected grade on student evaluations of teachers

  • Ewing, Andrew M.

Grade inflation over the past few decades has been a concern for many universities. Course evaluation scores are known to be positively correlated with students’ expected grades, and this paper tests whether or not there is an incentive for the instructor to “buy” higher evaluation scores by inflating grades. To test this hypothesis, I use unique data from the University of Washington's Office of Educational Assessment that includes a measure of each student's relative expected grade in the course. I find that there is an incentive for instructors to grade leniently after accounting for the potential endogeneity of the relative expected grade variable due to unobserved teacher productivity and unobserved heterogeneity of instructors and departments. Instructor fixed effects account for a significant part of the measured effect of relative expected grade on evaluations, and by not including them, the estimated impact of relative expected grade on evaluations is biased upwards.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 31 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 141-154

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:1:p:141-154
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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  1. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Donald G. Freeman, 1999. "Grade Divergence as a Market Outcome," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(4), pages 344-351, December.
  3. Langbein, Laura, 2008. "Management by results: Student evaluation of faculty teaching and the mis-measurement of performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 417-428, August.
  4. Richard Sabot & John Wakeman-Linn, 1991. "Grade Inflation and Course Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 159-170, Winter.
  5. Clifford Nowell & Richard M. Alston, 2007. "I Thought I Got an A! Overconfidence Across the Economics Curriculum," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(2), pages 131-142, April.
  6. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883, June.
  7. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Parker, Amy, 2005. "Beauty in the classroom: instructors' pulchritude and putative pedagogical productivity," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 369-376, August.
  8. Michael A. McPherson, 2006. "Determinants of How Students Evaluate Teachers," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(1), pages 3-20, January.
  9. Becker, William E. & Powers, John R., 2001. "Student performance, attrition, and class size given missing student data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 377-388, August.
  10. Paul Isely & Harinder Singh, 2005. "Do Higher Grades Lead to Favorable Student Evaluations?," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 29-42, January.
  11. Krautmann, Anthony C. & Sander, William, 1999. "Grades and student evaluations of teachers," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 59-63, February.
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