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Do course evaluations truly reflect student learning? Evidence from an objectively graded post-test

  • Beleche, Trinidad
  • Fairris, David
  • Marks, Mindy

It is difficult to assess the extent to which course evaluations reflect how much students truly learn from a course because valid measures of learning are rarely available. This paper makes use of a unique setting in which students take a common, high-stakes post-test which is centrally graded and serves as the basis for capturing actual student learning. We match these student-specific measures of learning to student-specific course evaluation scores from electronic records and a rich set of student-level covariates, including a pre-test score and other measures of skills prior to entering the course. While small in magnitude, we find a robust positive, and statistically significant, association between our measure of student learning and course evaluations.

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

Volume (Year): 31 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 709-719

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:709-719
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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  1. Bedard, Kelly & Kuhn, Peter, 2008. "Where class size really matters: Class size and student ratings of instructor effectiveness," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 253-265, June.
  2. Grant, Darren, 2007. "Grades as information," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 201-214, April.
  3. Krautmann, Anthony C. & Sander, William, 1999. "Grades and student evaluations of teachers," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 59-63, February.
  4. 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.
  5. Braga, Michela & Paccagnella, Marco & Pellizzari, Michele, 2011. "Evaluating Students' Evaluations of Professors," IZA Discussion Papers 5620, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Philip Babcock, 2010. "Real Costs Of Nominal Grade Inflation? New Evidence From Student Course Evaluations," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(4), pages 983-996, October.
  7. Scott E. Carrell & James E. West, 2008. "Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors," NBER Working Papers 14081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Iris Franz, Wan-Ju, 2010. "Grade inflation under the threat of students' nuisance: Theory and evidence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 411-422, June.
  9. 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.
  10. Mason, Paul M. & Steagall, Jeffrey W. & Fabritius, Michael M., 1995. "Student evaluations of faculty: A new procedure for using aggregate measures of performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 403-416, December.
  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.
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