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Taking a look at the problems with SPOTs

End-of-the-semester course evaluations are supposed to reflect a teacher’s abilities, but often just report students’ personal biases

February 1, 2018

Teaching evaluations should give solid feedback from students to department heads on whether an instructor is worth continued employment — but that’s not always what happens.

From low response rates to gender, ethnicity, and age biases, teaching evaluations, like FAU’s Student Perception of Teaching survey, have a long way to go until they’re a concrete measurement of a teacher’s abilities.

Flawed from the start

On average, just 58 percent of FAU’s 30,000 students take the Student Perception of Teaching evaluations, said James Capp, assistant provost for Academic Operations and Planning. This is down from the 66 percent response rate previously seen with the original paper format. (See SPOTs FAQs for a brief history on the teaching evaluation.)

Assistant provost for Academic Operations and Planning James Capp. Illustration by Ivan Benavides

> Continue reading about SPOTs’ problems, biases, and statistics on response rates

Joe Pye is the SPOTs special issue writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @jpeg3189.

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