The purpose of this paper is primarily to identify factors that accounted for the differences in course evaluation and course performance in two sections of the same course taught by the same instructor. Potential contributors to these differences included critical thinking, grade point average (GPA) and homework time in the course. Secondarily, the authors also examined whether season of the year and academic status of students (1st year through 3rd year) might have contributed to differences in course ratings and exam performance. The data in the study included some strictly quantitative variables and some qualitative judgments subsequently converted to quantitative measures.
The outcome variables included student objective exam scores and course ratings on the University’s eight-item rating form. Variables that may have contributed to performance and course evaluation differences between the two groups included student effort in the course, GPA and critical thinking.
The higher-performing section obtained significantly higher scores on course exams than the lower-preforming group and also rated the course significantly higher (average of 4.15 across the evaluation items) than the lower performing section (3.64 average in item ratings). The two performance groups did not differ on critical thinking and GPA, but did differ significantly in hours spent per week outside of class in studying for the course.
Although many studies have examined the predictive validity of course ratings, instructors are typically held responsible for both high and low student ratings. This particular action study suggests that it may be student effort rather than instructor behavior that has the stronger impact on both student performance and course evaluations.
Williams, R. and Wallace, M. (2019), "Teacher vs student responsibility for course outcomes", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-04-2019-0092Download as .RIS
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