Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

Influence of Course Difficulty, Workload, Pace, and Expected Grades on Overall Course Evaluations as Measured by Student Instructional Reports (SIR II)

One measure of teaching effectiveness used by many institutions is student evaluations. The results of these evaluations may be incorporated into recontracting, tenure, promotion, and tenured-faculty evaluations. Consequently, most faculty want to obtain student evaluations indicating they are good teachers. At the regional university where this study was conducted, some College of Business faculty believed a halo effect biases student evaluations. Specifically, these faculty believed they would receive poorer overall course evaluations if their courses 1) were difficult, 2) had heavy loads, 3) were fast-paced, and 4) were perceived as ones where students could expect to receive relatively lower grades. This paper describes the analysis of student course evaluations administered in a variety of undergraduate business courses. The goal of the analysis was to determine the correlation between the results of those questions/evaluative statements relating to the four factors noted above (independent variables) and the overall course evaluations (dependent variable). A correlation analysis indicated a low but statistically significant correlation between the overall course evaluations and the last three independent variables (but not difficulty). A linear regression of overall evaluation as the dependent variable and the four independent variables indicated that 9.1 percent of the variation in the overall course evaluation could be attributed to the four independent variables, while other factors accounted for 90.9 percent of the variation in overall course evaluation.