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Better Teacher, Lower Grades

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 02 January 22 2019

January 2019

What is the link between the students’ evaluation of their teachers and how much the learn? In an article in Frontiers in Psychology: “Do the best teachers get the best ratings?” an analysis is made of studies on this topic in general and two controlled case studies in particular. The authors distinguish between learning in the rated course and learning after the rated course; they show that in two controlled situations (10 000 US Air Force students and 1200 management students at Bocconi University in Italy), there was a positive link between (high) student ratings and more learning during the course, but negative link between (high) student ratings and learning in subsequent courses.

The authors do not recommend abandoning teacher ratings; they do recommend that student ratings should be combined with more “coaching” for teachers from expert teachers, and with steps to measure deep knowledge by examining teacher contribution to knowledge in a fair and objective way after students have completed a professor’s course.

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