Why Student Ratings of Teaching Improved

In a 2009 issue of The Teaching Professor, Maryellen Weimer summarized McGowan’s and Graham’s research on changes faculty made to their teaching in response to their end-of-course ratings (McGowan, W. R., & Graham, C. R. (2009). Factors contributing to improved teaching performance. Innovative Higher Education, 34, 161-171.).  Faculty attributed an increase in ratings to the following changes in teaching:  more active learning pedagogy, better teacher-student interactions (knowing students’ names, for example), clearer learning outcomes, better preparation for class, and revisions to the evaluation policies and procedures that are used to assess student work.  Perhaps making one change a semester would eventually build toward improved student ratings of teaching.  It may be overly challenging to make many changes at once.  Besides, there are anecdotes that specific changes in pedagogy (more student interaction, for example) lead to lower student ratings!

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