Zero Correlation Between Evaluations and Learning

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, Sept 22, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There are several things to say about this report. First, the headline is wildly overstated. 'Not finding' a correlation is very different from 'finding no correlation'. Second, it's a metastudy. The authors took a number of previously published studies, copied their data, cleaned it up and ran a new analysis on it. Third, only in-class student evaluations were used, not the popular online teacher evaluations. Fourth, we are given utterly no definition of what counts as 'learning'. Does it mean test scores? If so, it's old news that students don't base their evaluations on test scores. Finally fifth, the original study, still in preprint, is locked behind a paywall, and I just don't think I could bear spending $41 only to find that it's test scores. If the authors of this study have anything to say, let them say it openly where it can be scrutinized and criticized.

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