The Chronicle of Higher Ed just reported a study of teaching effectiveness that focused on students’ performance in later classes. This ‘sequence’ view of performance had interesting implications for tenure and student evaluations.
Students who took Calc I from a tenured instructor performed better when later taking Calc II. Is it just that more experienced instructors are more effective? Not necessarily — though authors speculate that perhaps less experienced instructors ‘teach to the test.’ They also found:
The more students liked their Calculus I section, the less likely they were (all else equal) to earn strong grades in the follow-up courses. The same pattern held even when the scholars looked only at the single question on the course-evaluation form that asked students how much they had learned in Calculus I. Students, this study suggests, are not always accurate judges of how much progress they have made.
Perhaps tenure decisions should favor candidates with BAD student evaluations?