Student evaluation of teaching: What does the research say?

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Are you interested in what the research says about student course evaluations, aka student evaluation of teaching (SET)? Jordan Troisi was, so he asked the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology-operated listserv PsychTeacher for articles on SET. He received plenty of responses. Here are the references sent to him, along with a few others I found along the way. I included links to the original article when available. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it should be enough to get you started. 


Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1993). Half a minute: Predicting teacher evaluations from thin slices of nonverbal behavior and physical at...Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 431-441. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.64.3.431

Bennett, S. K. (1982). Student perceptions of and expectations for male and female instructors: Evidence relating to the question of gender bias in teaching evaluation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(2), 170-179. doi:10.1037//0022-0663.74.2.170

Benton, S. L., & Cashin, W. E. (n.d.). Student ratings of teaching: A summary of research and literature. Retrieved February 4, 2017, from  

Boring, A. (2017). Gender biases in student evaluations of teaching. Journal of Public Economics, 145, 27-41. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2016.11.006

Boring, A., Ottoboni, K., & Stark, P. B. (2016). Student evaluations of teaching (mostly) do not measure teaching effectivenessScienceOpen Research. doi:10.14293/s2199-1006.1.sor-edu.aetbzc.v1

A January 25, 2016 NPR story (“Why female professors get lower ratings”) features this study.

Boysen, G. A. (2016). Using student evaluations to improve teaching: Evidence-based recommendations. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 2(4), 273-284. doi:10.1037/stl0000069

Boysen, G. A., Richmond, A. S., & Gurung, R. A. (2015). Model teaching criteria for psychology: Initial documentation of teachers’ self-reported competency. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 1(1), 48-59. doi:10.1037/stl0000023

Boysen, G. A., Kelly, T. J., Raesly, H. N., & Casner, R. W. (2013). The (mis)interpretation of teaching evaluations by college faculty and administrators. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 39(6), 641-656. doi:10.1080/02602938.2013.860950

Carrell, S., & West, J. (2010). Does professor quality matter? Evidence from random assignment of students to professorsJournal of Political Economy, 118(3), 409-432. doi:10.3386/w14081

DeWitt, P. (2015, January 02). 10 seconds: The time it takes a student to size you up. Retrieved from  

Eiszler, C. F. (2002). College students' evaluations of teaching and grade inflation. Research in Higher Education, 43(4), 483-501.


Gamliel, E., & Davidovitz, L. (2005). Online versus traditional teaching evaluation: Mode can matter. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(6), 581-592. doi:10.1080/02602930500260647


Kite, M. E. (2012). Effective evaluation of teaching: A guide for faculty and administrators. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site:

Macnell, L., Driscoll, A., & Hunt, A. N. (2014). What's in a name: Exposing gender bias in student ratings of teaching. Innovative Higher Education, 40(4), 291-303. doi:10.1007/s10755-014-9313-4

North Carolina State University press release.


A February 23, 2015 Inside Higher Ed blog (“Gender bias in student evaluations”) features this study.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Witcher, A. E., Collins, K. M., Filer, J. D., Wiedmaier, C. D., & Moore, C. W. (2007). Students' perceptions of characteristics of effective college teachers: A validity study of a teaching evaluation form using a mixed-methods analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 44(1), 113-160. doi:10.3102/0002831206298169

Ory, J. C. (2000). Teaching evaluation: Past, present, and future. In Evaluating Teaching in Higher Education: A Vision for the Future. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Pusateri, T. (1016, December 16). Student feedback on teaching: Why mean ratings may not tell the full story. Retrieved from

Richmond, A. S., Boysen, G. A., Gurung, R. A., Tazeau, Y. N., Meyers, S. A., & Sciutto, M. J. (2014). Aspirational model teaching criteria for psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 41(4), 281-295. doi:10.1177/0098628314549699

Sidanius, J., & Crane, M. (1989). Job evaluation and gender: The case of university faculty. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 19(2), 174-197. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1989.tb00051.x

Spooren, P., Brockx, B., & Mortelmans, D. (2013). On the validity of student evaluation of teaching: The state of the art. Review of Educational Research, 83(4), 598-642.

Sproule, R. (2000). Student evaluation of teaching: Methodological critiqueEducation Policy Analysis Archives, 8(50). doi:10.14507/epaa.v8n50.2000

Sproule, R. (2002). The underdetermination of instructor performance by data from the student evaluation of teaching. Economics of Education Review, 21(3), 287-294. doi:10.1016/s0272-7757(01)00025-5

Sproule, R., & Valsan, C. (2009). The student evaluation of teaching: Its failure as a research program, and as an administrative guide. Economic Interferences, 11(25), 125-150. Retrieved from

Stark, P. (2013, October 18). Do student evaluations measure teaching effectiveness? Retrieved from

Stark, P. B., & Freishtat, R. (2014). An evaluation of course evaluationsScienceOpen Research. doi:10.14293/s2199-1006.1.sor-edu.aofrqa.v1

A September 26, 2014 NPR story (“Student course evaluations get an ‘F’”) features this study.

Stroebe, W. (2016, July 17). Student evaluations of teaching: No measure for the TEF. Retrieved from

Stroebe, W. (2016). Why good teaching evaluations may reward bad teaching: On grade inflation and other unintended consequences of student evaluations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(6), 800-816. doi:10.1177/1745691616650284

Wolfer, T. A., & McNown Johnson, M. (2003). Re-evaluating student evaluation of teaching: The teaching evaluation form. Journal of Social Work Education, 39(1), 111-121.

About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.