Monthly Archives: November 2019

Evaluating: Assessing and Enhancing Teaching Quality

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Submitted by Fan Zhang

Article Reference

Beran, T. N., & Rokosh, J. L. (2009). The consequential validity of student ratings: What do instructors really think?.Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 55(4).

Felton, J., Koper, P. T., Mitchell, J. and Stinson, M. (2008), “Attractiveness, easiness and other issues: student evaluations of professors on”, Assessment&Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 45-61.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

Summary 1
The Consequential Validity of Student Ratings: What do Instructors Really Think?
The purpose of this study was to examine the consequential validity of student ratings, according to instructors at a major Canadian university. Results indicate that most instructors reported concerns about the SRI.
The problems:
Poor design of the instrument (70%)
The survey produced a limited amount of useful information. While there are items in the study that are targeted at specific areas of instruction, yet, these items may not be precise enough for instructors to determine how to improve these areas.
Many instructors indicated that the items were general and not applicable to their style of teaching or course design.
Procedural difficulties (56%)
Many instructors find that the SRI is administered too frequently, and resulting in “student rating fatigue.”
Myth-based issues (31%)
Some instructors consider the USRI to be an unfair measure as it is purely a “popularity contest” or believe that giving out higher grades will result in better SRI scores.
Ratings are biased (29%)
Many instructors believe students’ evaluations to be biased by several factors, including course difficulty, instructor popularity, grading leniency, prior student interest, and class size, although research has consistently shown that most such background characteristics have a negligible effect on student evaluation.
Negative effect on instructors/instruction (11%)
A number of instructors reported feeling that the student rating procedure leads instructors to lower their standard to avoid receiving low ratings.

This study revealed the importance of the consistency between what instructors consider to be quality teaching and the measures used to assess them.

Summary 2
Attractiveness, easiness and other issues: student evaluations of professors on is a website with the motto ‘Where the students do the grading.’ It is not affiliated with any institution of higher education or accrediting agency. Since 1999, it has received nearly six million postings rating more than 750,000 instructors at more than 6000 schools.
At the time of this study, students can voluntarily rate their professor at the website based on easiness, helpfulness, clarity, overall quality, and hotness. It is worse noting that today, there are only two categories that are being highlighted on the website, and they are the level of difficulty and overall quality.
This study included data from 6852 professors from 369 institutions in and the United States and Canada. They found that there is a significant positive correlation for Quality and Easiness (0.62), and they found professors with high Easiness scores usually have student comments regrading a light workload and high grades. The authors of this article claim, based on these findings, they think these self- selected evaluations from cast considerable doubt on the usefulness of in-class student opinion surveys for purposes of examining quality and effectiveness of teaching.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you think SRI can be an accurate representation of the quality of a course?
  2. 2. What changes will you make so the SRI can be more helpful to the growth of an educator?
  3. 3. Do you think websites like “rate my professor” influence how professors teaching today?

Voicethread for enhanced student learning

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Submitted by Cathrin Green

For my technology assignment, I decided to look into the potential of using Voicethread as a tool in my classes. Voicethread is a system that allows multisensory collaboration between faculty and students. This tool can promote learning engagement and allows all types of multimedia to be uploaded, including video, pictures, and presentations. Voicethread allows for a range of assignments. Instructors could require students to view content uploaded by the instructor, such as lectures. Instructors could also require students to upload their own content and have other students engage in a dialogue about this content. The neat thing about this tool is that it allows students to comment and respond directly to others’ posts in the form of a video, audio, or text message. In my opinion, this increases the intimacy of class discussion, especially in larger classes, and particularly more than a typical Blackboard discussion board that some instructors use. This is especially beneficial in larger classes where students might not be able to discuss course topics in small groups during class due to space, time, or other limitations. With Voicethread, the instructor is also able to create group assignments and assign students to subgroups without students having to physically be together to complete their work.

Perhaps one of the best parts about this system is that at VCU, instructors can sync this tool with their already existing class Blackboard page. Instructors would just create a Voicethread instance link within Blackboard. Therefore, the class roster will automatically be integrated into Voicethread and students would not have to create a separate account or sign up for a new service. Within this service, instructors are also able to upload grading rubrics and grade assignments. These grades are automatically posted into the instructor’s Blackboard gradebook. In conclusion, Voicethread appears to be an innovative and convenient way for students to be creatively and actively involved in the learning experience.

Caveat: There does seems to be a slight learning curve when using this tool for both instructors and students. If instructors would like to use it, I would suggest taking sometime in class to explain Voicethread to the students and demonstrating how they are to use it to complete assignments. Additionally, VCU has an amazing resource center to help instructors and students create a Voicethread and troubleshoot any problems that might arise.

VCU Blackboard Link: