Implications of Web-based Learning for Student Evaluation of University Teaching


Student rating of instruction plays an important role in the university culture-impacting faculty tenure, promotion, merit pay, and teaching awards. These ratings, however, are controversial in almost every setting, suffering criticisms regarding their 1) ability to index effective instruction, 2) insensitivity to student learning outcomes, and 3) inappropriate use for evaluating faculty. Interestingly, with the success of so many web-based learning programs, student rating of instruction is becoming more controversial. At the University of Central Florida (UCF) we find that one of the most often voiced considerations is that, in order for those ratings to be valid for online courses, the standard face-to-face instrument must be customized for the various web components in classes. The magnitude of the virtual branch campus at UCF makes student ratings particularly important when one considers online teaching and learning in the context of faculty involvement and satisfaction. Considering the web-based transformation at UCF, we have completed a comprehensive investigation of student perception of instruction on our campuses. The study involves approximately 750,000 student ratings of their professors for several years using the standard university instrument. This session will report comparative results for face-to-face courses with several modes of web-based courses using decision tree methodology that builds predictive categorical models. The major finding of the research is that there are strong rules for predicting the likelihood of an instructor receiving an excellent overall rating-independent of the mode, level, or college in which he or she teaches. The presenters will discuss the implications of the study for transforming evaluation of web-based courses. Complete findings will be available to participants.

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