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The Effects of Professors' Race and Gender on Student Evaluations And Performance

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This experimental study examined the effects of professor gender, professor race, and student gender on student ratings of teaching effectiveness and amount learned. After watching a three-minute engineering lecture presented by a computer-animated professor who varied by gender and race (African American, White), female and male undergraduates (N = 325) completed a 26-question student evaluation form and a 10-question true/false quiz on the lecture content. Contrary to predictions, male students gave significantly higher ratings than female students on most teaching factors and African American professors were rated higher than White professors on their hypothetical interactions with students. Quiz results, however, supported predictions: higher scores were obtained by students who had a White professor compared to those who had an African American professor, and by students who had a male professor compared to those who had a female professor. These results may be due to students paying more attention to the more normative professor. Thus, performance measures may be a more sensitive indication of race and gender biases than student ratings. The limited relationship between student ratings and student learning suggests caution in using the former to assess the latter.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • College Student Journal publishes original investigations and theoretical papers dealing with college student values, attitudes, opinions, and learning. Topics include the areas of undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, and may also include selected contributions dealing with college preparation.

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