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Students' evaluation of teaching (SET) in higher education: A question of reliability and validity

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Students' evaluations of teaching (SETs) have become part of the fabric of higher education institutions (HEIs) worldwide. This is to the extent that most job postings for faculty - especially in the US where the idea originated - specify the inclusion of "student evaluation" as part of the application selection requirements. As an illustration, let me cite the most recent example posted on one of many listservs (15 September 2011):

Qualified candidates must submit the following documentation electronically: A letter of interest explaining your qualifications for this position; curriculum vitae; and a contact list of three references. Finalists will be asked to provide a summary of courses taught with student evaluations and unofficial transcripts of graduate credits.

The debate has been wide ranging and long standing from Frey, Leonard and Beatty (1975) to Brown (2011). In between these decades, Pounder (2007) in his paper " Is student evaluation of teaching worthwhile? " sets a good tone for the discourse on the reliability and validity of SET. In his recognition of the limitations of SET, Pounder (2007, p. 178) specifically advised that "... the time is right to explore other methods of assessing classroom dynamics that could supplement the conventional teacher evaluation process". This paper takes on the view of the latter research where a UAE-based author, in his attempt to develop a workable framework for SET analysis, highlighted the major limitations of the exercise as a measure of performance.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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