Turning Up the Heat on Online Teaching

Evaluations: Does "Hotness" Matter?

Use of APA format

Perceived course difficulty or ease

Physical Attractiveness-Hotness

Studies have shown that teaching evaluations done by students provide valuable feedback that is needed for the improvement of instruction and can also helping the institution's administration in making decisions in regard to salary and faculty promotion. Investigations done on the teaching effectiveness have cited a number of factors that relate to student's evaluations. These include: prior subject interest, perceived course difficulty or ease, physical attractiveness, and clarity. These factors influence either student evaluations or learning, or both. According to this research, those individuals who are physically attractive benefit from an excess of advantages and also positive qualities. That teacher attractiveness correlates with immediacy, likeability, and teaching effectiveness. Investigations done show that online ratings of professors from the RateMyProfessor.com (RMP) found that there was a higher student evaluation from hot professors than the non hot professors, these same professors received more positive comments than the no hot ones.

According to this research, appearance mattered a lot in the student's ratings of their professors especially hotness. This was a reaffirmation of the importance of the appearance of professors on the student's ratings. Although this conclusion had its own limitations, first it was found out that the sample used was tied to those students motivated to rate their professors online, making the rating of those students who used conventional teaching evaluations unknown. It was argued that online ratings may be unique when it comes to motivation and willingness to publicly post comments. Another limitation was that the research was restricted to the measures that are currently used by the RMP. This has its setbacks in that hotness can fail to show the various aspects of attractiveness.

Furthermore, the RMP only determines the teaching effectiveness by getting the average of a professor's scores on clarity and helpfulness, meaning that it is just but a created index showing overall quality, rather than a single item that provides the estimates of students about the overall teaching effectiveness. The study was also limited in terms of predictors; hence the contributions made in terms of hotness may just be a function of the predictors available. But despite all the limitations, the research reaffirmed that teacher attractions predict how the students evaluate them. The research however found out that the direction of causality is still debatable. The research suggested that although attractiveness can give some undue advantage to some teachers, if potential mediators are uncovered, then additional mechanism will be identified that can influence teacher evaluation.

The authors of this article are: Scott Freng and David Webber, and are affiliated with the University of Wyoming.

The Use of 'Ethos Indicators' in Tertiary Education in Japan

Student Evaluation of Teaching surveys (SETs)

The easy access to University education in Japan has brought about a rush for drastic reforms in institutions of higher learning.  This has seen the introduction of, among other things, self evaluation in all public universities and in a majority of private university. This is done through the implementation of end of semester SETs across the curriculum. Because of the affordable accessibility of higher education, the SETs are supposed to be an impetus to teachers to make efforts at improving the personal teaching abilities so that they can handle the increasing diversity in knowledge and ability in students. In order for the private institutions to attract a large student population, they base their evaluation on competition, customer satisfaction, and student retention.

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This has seen quality being ignored and teachers wasting their skills as students are only asked how far the classes are meeting their expectations. It is therefore argued that some schools will promote an academic ethos while others a collegiate and social ethos. This poses a problem in the comparing of teachers through student evaluation as each institution has its own ethos that it promotes, and students evaluate teachers basing on their own frames of reference. This issue is often ignored or by passed by the SETs in Japan. It is there suggested that instead of a summative evaluation at the end of a semester, qualities influencing the learning environment should be looked at so that a better understanding of student perceptions of their university experience is achieved.

This is where the use of ethos indicators comes in handy; it is in form of a questionnaire that acts as a tin-opener into an institutions culture. Studies show that a university's first impressions ethos matters a lot to new students. Institutions should therefore strive to make their ethos as attractive as possible to avoid bad impressions. It is recommended that institutions need to look at an institution wide evaluation that is comprehensive instead the one part evaluation that is done through SETs. The article suggests that those schools capable of maintaining a positive learning atmosphere are those that will employ a clear set of policies that will sustain their climate and an ethos to strengthen all policy development and maintenance. This calls for more input from both students and teachers in the evaluation process so that evaluation and the improvement of an institution are linked by a healthy bond.

The author of this article is Peter Burden affiliated to Okayama Shoka University, Japan

Student Evaluation of Teaching Quality in Higher Education: Development of an Instrument Based on 10 Likert-Scales

Single-item evaluation

Scaling techniques

Student ratings of instruction

For many years the evaluation of teaching skills by students in institutions of higher learning has played a great role in the improvement of the quality of teaching. The University of Antwerp has a policy that aims at developing more systematic instructional quality evaluations which are to be done on a regular basis whereby students are allowed to play an important role. Because the single item evaluation proved not to be relied upon, a 31-item student questionnaire was used in this study which is based on empirical research and on a theoretical frame work.

Students were allowed to evaluate and also rate those courses they attended together with the instructional skills of their teachers using 10 Likert scales that were constructed in three subsequent research phases. The Likert type of scale was used because of it ease of use and its quality check that is straight forward. The authors argue that teacher evaluations are more valid, useful and reliable if they are done using scaling techniques in questionnaire. These saw the development of a reliable and valid instrument that was based on the empirical data that was collected through questions asked to students concerning those courses they attended.

A test instrument and an extensive questionnaire were used after undergoing a series of validity and reliability tests until it was ready for implementation. And the results found also emphasize the fact that scaling technique is reliable in student evaluation of the performance of teachers. When compared to the single-item technique, a technique that had severe methodological setbacks, evaluations done through scaling techniques can measure skills of instruction in a better way because they are not affected by factors such as social desirability, interpretations that are ambiguous, and the accidental fluctuations of the given answers. Furthermore, each scale's internal consistency can be easily tested in this technique by the calculation of the statistic of the Cronbach's alpha. When used, it increases validity, reliability of data, it raises the measurement level, and the results are comprehensibly communicated.

The article suggests that for valid and reliable scales, systematic research using literature and empirical data should be done. It was also noted that this type of preliminary research does not seem to be taking place in many of the institutions of higher learning, something that seems to give a stable ground for those concerned about validity, reliability and the usefulness of student's outlook of teaching, to base their arguments.

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