[Excerpt] Students’ evaluations of instructors’ teaching may be one of many longstanding approaches to improving instruction which has lost its utility as a diagnostic tool and has become a quantitative device used to determine merit pay and tenure. Comments such as “Instructor has great legs” or “You should lose weight” or “Buy a new tie,” while occasionally amusing, suggest that the students themselves take the process of feedback lightly. Instructors who view student responses as critical to their future salary and promotion opportunities may take a tactical stance and pander to student wishes: if the material is too complex, make it simpler; if the assignments are too long, make them shorter; if the grade distribution is too discriminating, adjust it. Perhaps more distressing is the good teacher who will not tinker or innovate for fear that changing the course will result in lower student evaluations. Across the country the process of evaluating instruction has moved from an activity centered on providing helpful feedback and suggestions for improvement into a means of making comparisons across faculty in an effort to link salary and promotion decisions to seemingly objective data.
Enz, C. A., Ornstein, S., & Allen, B. (1988). Improving the teaching evaluation process: A report from the classroom[Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date] from Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration site: http://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/articles/625