Stanley Fish: Good Teaching and Student Evaluations (II)
On June 24th, I posted a first blog enty on Professor Stanley Fish's critique of student evaluations. He now has a follow-up in his "Opinionator" column, "Student Evaluations, Part Two" (NYT, June 28, 2010), in which various instructors offer their horror stories of such evaluations:
[Such as] the teacher who, after having moved a class to a morning hour in response to student requests, found himself pilloried by those same students for making them get up too early; the teacher who was negatively reviewed by students who had never shown up (they needed to turn in an evaluation in order to get credit for the class they had not attended) . . . .I've got news for Professor Fish. Some foreign countries have already adopted the "customer mentality perspective." Some instructors, however, resist:
[Evaluations] can also lead to the abandoning or blighting of a career. Posters report variously that they left teaching altogether or moved to a foreign country where the "customer" mentality had not yet set in or stuck it out for 30 years while becoming ever more bitter and disillusioned. Even those who are aware that there is little correlation between student evaluations and effective teaching (the preponderance of studies document this non-correlation) and therefore know that negative comments do not reflect an informed judgment are nevertheless pained and humiliated by them . . . .
A Teacher lets it all hang out and speaks for many: "Sorry kids, you are not the authority in the classroom. Me Teacher. You student. Me Teach , you learn. End of discussion . . . Education is not a business. You are not my customer. My classroom is not Burger King. You do not get to 'have it your way.'"I ought sometimes to have said it like that to students with the 'customer' attitude . . . but articulations aside, the significant point is Professor Fish's reference to "the preponderance of studies document[ing] . . . [the] non-correlation" . . . "between student evaluations and effective teaching ."
Professor Fish's column is nonacademic and thus cites no sources, but I'm curious about the studies alluded to, for I would like to have cited such studies in previous years when issues of this sort arose in discussions over good teaching . . .