Teaching Students to Think - Faculty Recommendations for Teaching Evaluations Employing Automated Content Analysis

Nitza Davidovitch, Eyal Eckhaus


Many studies have been conducted on teaching evaluations completed by students and on myths and facts concerning these evaluations performed by students at academic institutions. The current study is unique in examining the meaning of teaching evaluations as perceived by academic faculty members in Israel through direct questions, with an emphasis on faculty's recommendations for improving the evaluations to make students' comments meaningful for enhancing and advancing their teaching. The perception of evaluations is unique too. Evaluations are part of faculty's learning outputs in their courses, with the aim being for graduates of academic systems to have the ability to provide objective and fair assessments.

One hundred seventy seven questionnaires were gathered from senior faculty at several academic institutions. Qualitative and statistical research tools were used in order to form a model that expresses the negative implications as seen by faculty members and alternatives for measuring the performance of faculty in academic teaching. The research findings indicate that lecturers note "professional" alternatives and see teaching evaluations as a populist rather than a professional tool. Moreover, although the lecturers gauge the damage caused to them as a result of student evaluations, where the enormous damage caused to them is disproportionate to the number of respondents, and although faculty members believe that student evaluations are untrustworthy, students' opinions on the courses are important. Their recommendation is that the evaluation should be a tool for teaching how to perform evaluations and convey criticism – and in this field not much has been done in academic institutions, if at all. Academia sees evaluations as a technical matter, a means of satisfying students by letting them express their opinions and of giving students a feeling that the system is attentive to their voice, to their views.

Indeed, students' voice is important to the lecturers – their opinions of teaching are important – and that is precisely why action should be taken to render these evaluations fair. Students should understand the power of the words that express their evaluation of the lecturers. This point of view is a first of its kind, where academic faculty members support students' opinions and provide recommendations aimed at their improvement.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v8n3p83


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