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The Relationship Of Instructor Ratings With Ta Ratings In High Enrollment, Lecture/Lab Courses: A Preliminary Study

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

FPD6 - First Year Curricula Development

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1256.1 - 13.1256.8



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Paper Authors

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Jon Sticklen Michigan State University

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Mark Urban-Lurain Michigan State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



Sound evaluation of faculty performance as class instructors is multifaceted, and typically is framed along dimensions such as student ratings, student achievement of objective learning outcomes, enhancement of course methodology or content, and visitation by faculty colleagues. However, at many institutions, student ratings are heavily weighted in faculty evaluation. (Abrami, 2001a, 2001b). Student ratings of instructors have been extensively researched, yet remain controversial. While many faculty feel that student ratings are not reliable, the research consistently shows that they are (Abrami, 2001a; Cashin, 1995; Marsh & Dunkin, 1992). As Cashin (1995) points out, much of the controversy around student “ratings” comes from their misuse as “evaluation.” That is, while the research suggests that students’ ratings of instructors may be among the best data about the instructor’s effectiveness, they should be treated as one data source, rather than as the final evaluation of the instructor. In high enrollment courses that have both lecture and laboratory components, student ratings of the lead faculty instructor may have two components: student attitudes about the course based on perceptions of the lead faculty person, and student attitudes about the course based on perceptions about the student’s teaching assistant (TA). It could be conjectured that these two sources of attitudes about the course merge in the perception of a student, and that an important factor in the rating a student gives to a faculty person is the rating the student gives to his TA or vice versa. Certainly, anecdotal evidence is available that if a student is unhappy with a TA, the same student may be unhappy with the course in general, and with the faculty person in charge of the course. Even though the literature on student ratings is extensive, the subtopic of the interaction of TA ratings and faculty ratings is not; indeed there is not specific literature on this topic that we could identify. In this paper, we explore the relationship between student ratings of the instructor and TAs in a large enrollment lecture/lab course to try to understand what, if any, impact there of a student’s TA on student ratings of instructors.

Literature on Student Evaluation of Teaching

Cashin (1995) notes that there were over 1500 references on research of student evaluations of teaching in 1995. That number has grown, so that a recent search in ERIC on the thesaurus term Student Evaluation of Teacher Performance results in 2647 references. Narrowing that search to include the phrase “teaching assistant” reduces the literature to 30 references. These include such characteristics: as the TA’s GRE scores (Vecchio & Costin, 1977); the TA’s affective communication skills (O'Hair & Babich, 1981); the TAs dress and student classroom

Sticklen, J., & Urban-Lurain, M. (2008, June), The Relationship Of Instructor Ratings With Ta Ratings In High Enrollment, Lecture/Lab Courses: A Preliminary Study Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4096

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