The Impact of Relative Grade Expectations on Student Evaluation of Teaching
Clifford Nowell ()
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Clifford Nowell: Weber State University
International Review of Economic Education, 2007, vol. 6, issue 2, 42-56
It is commonly accepted that student evaluation of teaching (SET) ratings are influenced by expected grades, and that faculty are able to 'buy' higher SET ratings by giving higher grades. Researchers have questioned whether there are limits to the ability to buy grades due to the possibility that students reward teachers for their relative grade as opposed to their absolute grade. In this paper we use SET data to investigate the relationship between SET ratings and relative grades. Similar to the prior literature, we find an indirect relationship between SET scores and historical grade performance averages (GPAs) but, we find the opposite result to be true when we examine the relationship between SET scores and expected grades earned by peers. Contrary to recent literature that suggests limits exist to an instructor's ability to purchase high SET scores when relative grades are considered, we find that the incentives to lower grading standards and buy higher SET ratings may actually be greater than has been thought in the past.
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