It would be interesting if course evaluations evaluated teaching effectiveness. A low evaluation would mean the students did not learn much, while a high one indicated a very good teacher. For this to happen, it seems students need to be able to tell if they learned much.
Given what we know now about self-knowledge,** we shouldn’t expect students to be able to tell how effective some teaching really is. And though the evidence is early and fairly small, it looks as though students are NOT very good at assessing how well they are taught.
See the CHE Article:
In an experiment students heard the same lecture—on why calico cats tend to be female—from two instructors, one fluent and engaging, the other halting and stiff. Unexpectedly, both groups of students scored equally well on a test of the material, even though the students with the better lecturer thought they’d learned more.
** easy to read references: Thinking fast and slow, by Kahneman; The Invisible Gorilla, by Simons and Chabris