American Historical Association Web Post
Most faculty in North America are evaluated, in part, on their teaching effectiveness. This is typically measured with student evaluations of teaching (SETs), instruments that ask students to rate instructors on a series of mostly closed- ended items. Because these instruments are cheap, easy to implement, and provide a simple way to gather information, they are the most common method used to evaluate faculty teaching for hiring, tenure, promotion, contract renewal, and merit raises.
Despite the ubiquity of SETs, a growing body of evidence suggests that their use in personnel decisions is problematic. SETs are weakly related to other measures of teaching effectiveness and student learning (Boring, Ottoboni, and Stark 2016; Uttl, White, and Gonzalez 2017); they are used in statistically problematic ways (e.g., categorical measures are treated as interval, response rates are ignored, small differences are given undue weight, and distributions are not reported) (Boysen 2015; Stark and Freishtat 2014); and they can be influenced by course characteristics like time of day, subject, class size, and whether the course is required, all of which are unrelated to teaching effectiveness.