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Evaluating students' evaluations of professors

  • Michela Braga


    (University of Milan)

  • Marco Paccagnella


    (Bank of Italy)

  • Michele Pellizzari


    (Bocconi University, IGIER and IZA)

This paper contrasts measures of teacher effectiveness with the students� evaluations of 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. 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 worse 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 greater student 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 short-sighted and give better evaluations to teachers from whom they derive higher utility in a static framework, the model is capable of predicting our empirical finding that good teachers receive bad evaluations.

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Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 825.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_825_11
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