Student Evaluations of Instructors: A Bad Thing?

In a recent "Parting Shot," it was argued that perhaps student evaluations were not, in Martha Stewart's famous phrase, "a good thing," given doubts about the qualifications of students to judge instructors, questionable validity of the evaluation instrument, threats to academic freedom, and misuse by administrators. Every college instructor subjected to student evaluation, myself included, has probably mused about these possibilities at one time or the other—especially those times when the evaluations are not quite as laudatory as one might have expected or hoped. But before we throw out the evaluation with the bathwater, let's take a look at the other side of this double-edged question of the value of student evaluations.

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