Gender Bias in Student Evaluations

From Inside Higher Ed:

There’s mounting evidence suggesting that student evaluations of teaching are unreliable. But are these evaluations, commonly referred to as SET, so bad that they’re actually better at gauging students’ gender bias and grade expectations than they are at measuring teaching effectiveness? A new paper argues that’s the case, and that evaluations are biased against female instructors in particular in so many ways that adjusting them for that bias is impossible.

As the UK embraces a new system of ranking teaching effectiveness, and allowing this to partly determine funding, it’s really important to bear this in mind.  If NSS (National Student Satisfaction survey) scores are key to the TEF (the new system), and the best way to get high NSS scores is to have men doing the teaching, there might be a worrying incentive for discrimination.


9 thoughts on “Gender Bias in Student Evaluations

  1. Reblogged this on Awaiting Moderation and commented:
    Nah, this couldn’t be accurate…just kidding–I would receive evaluations talking about how I was either “young” or “a woman.” Seems relevant. *eye roll*

  2. Totally. Actually, in the UK, I think there needs to be some level of campaign about this, because as the TEF comes in – assuming, regrettably, that it will – evaluations are likely to play some role in it. Is there something where SWIP-UK can do anything – but presumably it needs to be a broader coalition of academics from across many subject areas?

  3. Alison– i’ve written up a short piece, which I’m trying to get placed in the higher education media. But we should definitely think about other things we can do.

  4. Also relevant:

    Students who are taught by black or ethnic minority academics are less likely to rate their courses positively in the National Student Survey, according to a study.

    An analysis of the 2014 results found that the ethnicity of lecturers was one of the most significant influencers on the overall satisfaction of UK undergraduates…

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