With the worldwide implementation of students’ evaluation of teaching (SET), faculty attitudes and trust in students’ feedback as well as possible defensive (i.e., self-protective) motivations seem most relevant to the facilitation of the primary organizational goal of SET, namely, teaching improvement. A questionnaire—administered to 2241 faculty members of all ranks in two dozen varied institutions—measured positive attitudes and trust, on the one hand, and beliefs in salient negative faculty SET myths, on the other hand. The most widely-held negative attitudes concerned student fallibilities: vindictiveness; lack of maturity; and negative evaluations of low-achieving students. Despite believing in myths, more than half of the respondents reported trusting SET, thought that it accurately reflected their teaching performance, and considered SET-based feedback useful. A derived index comparing self-evaluations to reported students’ evaluations demonstrated that more than a third of the participants rated their own quality of teaching higher than the ratings they reported typically receiving from their students. This ‘underestimated’ group believed more intensely in SET myths and mistrusted it, which suggests a possible self-protective motivation underlying faculty attitudes. A subgroup of 9% felt strongly underestimated by their students, and a series of comparisons gave clear indications that, for this group of hard-core disgruntled faculty members, the administration of SET questionnaires and the provision of SET feedback are counter-productive. Insights from this research might encourage academic administrations to improve the implementation of SET measurement to increase faculty receptiveness and trust.
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© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.
- Faculty beliefs
- Faculty demoralization
- Faculty trust
- Instructors’ self-image
- Students’ evaluations of teaching (SET)