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Over the past decade, the use of student evaluations of teacher effectiveness has grown in popularity. The student typically completes a standardized evaluation form for the teachers of classes in which he or she is enrolled. Not only are more schools using this method of assessing teacher effectiveness, many also use the results to make faculty retention, promotion, salary, tenure and other personnel decisions. As Centra (1972) indicates, the question is no longer whether college teaching should be evaluated; it is how, when and by whom? Although various approaches to measuring teaching effectiveness exist (i.e., peer ratings, superior ratings, classroom visits, etc.), the use of student evaluations seems the most controversial. Evidence of the wide-spread use of student evaluations has been documented by a number of researchers (e.g., Peterson, Kerin and Martin, 1978; Lein and Merz, 1978). For example, in a study designed to learn how business faculty were being evaluated, Lein and Merz received responses from 374 business schools. While these schools used widely differing combinations of methods in evaluating faculty, over 70 percent of the schools used some form of student evaluation.
(The research was supported in part by a grant from The National Fellowships Fund. The authors are grateful for the comments and suggestions of Angelo Kinicki.)