The Validity of Student Evaluations of Teaching

Peter Slade, Christopher McConville


This article considers the validity and usefulness of student evaluations of teaching (SET) at a small Australian university. Face and content validity were considered and a factor analysis was performed to evaluate the overall validity of a survey instrument which purports to give useable results in respect to teaching methods and approaches. It was found that the survey instrument was flawed in that the ten compulsory questions of which it is constituted, all collapsed into one dimension. This dimension was determined to be the extent of popularity of the lecturer for whom the survey was conducted. In essence, the survey is not an evaluation of teaching, but rather students' opinions of the lecturer concerned. It was concluded that the SET survey serves no educational purpose and is a violation of academic freedom and lecturers’ rights.

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