Psycho-social criteria in student evaluation of college teachers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Nick L. Smith


College students, Faculty evaluation, Professional development

Subject Categories

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Higher Education and Teaching | Teacher Education and Professional Development


This study had two purposes: (1) to extend criteria of student course ratings to psycho-social criteria, (2) to indicate methodological misunderstanding. Even though student course ratings designed to measure teaching quality have received a great deal of attention, many studies indicated an inconsistent relationships among diverse background characteristics and course ratings; additionally, the level of explained variance of course ratings by the background characteristics was unsatisfactory. Two reasons are suspected for this inconsistency: (1) we still do not know more powerful explanatory variables or constructs; (2) we misunderstand methodologies or apply weak research designs. Then what factors can contribute to the better understanding of student course ratings? This study found potential contributing constructs for unexplained variance of course ratings using a hybrid method. Data was gathered from participant-observation, interviews with 36 students, and course evaluation questionnaire data. The data analysis of this study was interactive, moving back and forth between qualitative and quantitative data, and iterative in both types of data respectively.

One result of this study was that student course ratings reflected psycho-social criteria. I suggested an example of psycho-social criteria: the notion of a good match. Under this major finding I introduced three constructs: intellectual or emotional distance; threats to self-esteem of students with high GPA; diverse reasons for good judgment of teachers. Three themes emerged from these constructs can help better understand the notion of good match, an extended criterion of students' course rating.

Also, qualitative and quantitative results of this study indicated two important methodological problems. This study showed an evidence of misunderstood multiple regression logic. It cautioned that cause-effect relationship in previous quantitative research should be better examined in consideration of counterfactual condition. The major implication of the study is that comparisons of teachers based on student course ratings should take into account contextual factors such as student background characteristics, which may be nominally unrelated to teaching quality.


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