The following is a list of best practices that the SET oversight committee has put together for the use of student evaluations of teaching. These suggestions are aimed to improve the information provided on the SETs as well as for their use in the evaluation process.
Interpretation of reports
Student ratings from different course levels and types should be appropriately contextualized. For example, elective courses in the major and courses with small enrollments tend to receive higher ratings than required courses and courses with large enrollments.
Consistent patterns observable over a number of semesters should be identified. Results for single courses that do not align with overall trends should not be unduly emphasized. This holds when the outlier is high or low relative to other data.
The evaluation of courses with a small number of students is less reliable. However, when multiple iterations of a course are considered together, they can provide useful information.
One should realize the error and biases that are inherent in student evaluations - academic field, course type, instructor characteristics, expected grade.
References and useful resources
- University of Washington Teaching Resources
- Improving feedback
- Hanover Research Council Research on Best Practice
- Nulty. The adequacy of response rates, 2008.
- Wayne State University Office for Teaching and Learning. Improve Response Rates and Comment Quality, 2020.