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

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  • Ewing, Andrew M.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ewing, Andrew M., 2012. "Estimating the impact of relative expected grade on student evaluations of teachers," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 141-154.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:1:p:141-154
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2011.10.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2012. "Personnel Economics," Introductory Chapters,in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
    2. 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.
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    5. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883, March.
    6. 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.
    7. Krautmann, Anthony C. & Sander, William, 1999. "Grades and student evaluations of teachers," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 59-63, February.
    8. 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.
    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. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mary R Hedges & Don Webber, 2012. "Using student evaluations to improve individual and department teaching qualities," Working Papers 20121205, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    2. Angelo Antoci & Irene Brunetti & Pierluigi Sacco & Mauro Sodini, 2017. "Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET), social influence dynamics, and teachers' choices: An evolutionary model," Discussion Papers 2017/225, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
    3. Anne Boring, 2015. "Gender Biases in student evaluations of teachers," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2015-13, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    4. repec:spr:reihed:v:58:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11162-016-9429-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Wagner, N. & Rieger, M. & Voorvelt, K.J., 2016. "Gender, ethnicity and teaching evaluations : Evidence from mixed teaching teams," ISS Working Papers - General Series 617, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    6. Cho, Donghun & Baek, Wonyoung & Cho, Joonmo, 2015. "Why do good performing students highly rate their instructors? Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 172-179.
    7. Aurora García-Gallego & Nikolaos Georgantzís & Joan Martín-Montaner & Teodosio Pérez-Amaral, 2015. "(How) Do research and administrative duties affect university professors' teaching?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(45), pages 4868-4883, September.
    8. Anna Salomons & Maarten Goos, 2014. "Measuring Teaching Quality in Higher Education : Assessing the Problem of Selection Bias in Course Evaluations," Working Papers 14-16, Utrecht School of Economics.
    9. Lütkenhöner, Laura, 2013. "Können sich Hochschuldozenten bessere studentische Lehrevaluationen "erkaufen"?," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 7/2013, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.
    10. Boring, Anne, 2017. "Gender biases in student evaluations of teaching," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 27-41.
    11. Rieger, Matthias & Voorvelt, Katherine, 2016. "Gender, ethnicity and teaching evaluations: Evidence from mixed teaching teamsAuthor-Name: Wagner, Natascha," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 79-94.
    12. Donghun Cho & Joonmo Cho, 2017. "Does More Accurate Knowledge of Course Grade Impact Teaching Evaluation?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(2), pages 224-240, Spring.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Student evaluations of teachers; Grades;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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