Student ratings of university teaching: similarities and differences in experientially-oriented courses

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Mosack, Victoria A.
Burdsal, Charles A.
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End-of-course student ratings of teaching are among the most frequently used methods of evaluating instruction in university courses. Experiential courses focus on knowledge application and performance, and tend to be taught and experienced differently as compared to lecture type courses. Traditional instruments used in universities to gather data about the effectiveness of instruction tend to focus on teaching behaviors relevant to lecture type courses, and have not captured a professional practice dimension one would expect to find in experiential courses. The Student Perception of Teaching Effectiveness in Experiential Courses Scale (ESPTE) was designed to measure effective teaching across a university, and includes items related to a professional practice dimension. The primary aim of the study was to further examine the dimensions of effective teaching in experiential courses using the ESPTE, and to explore the appropriateness of the ESPTE instrument for use across several different disciplines. Additionally, the student ratings were examined in terms of influence of certain characteristics of the course and student raters, including anticipated grade, class size, course level, and students’ prior interest in the course. ESPTE instruments completed by the students of 364 experiential courses were used in this study. Mean course ratings for the items of the ESPTE were used as the unit of analysis. Factor analyses were conducted for the entire data set (1998-2005) and two subgroup data sets (1998-2002 and 2003-2005) to identify and confirm the dimensions of effective teaching measured by the ESPTE. To determine whether adjustments would be needed for the ESPTE, additional correlations and one-way ANOVAs were performed using factor scores. The factor analyses identified and confirmed three dimensions of teaching in experiential courses including a dimension related to professional practice. A fourth dimension involving grading did not form in analysis of the 2003-2005 data. Of the additional analyses, a prior interest in the subject or course (a priori motivation) had considerable influence on the course ratings. With appropriate adjustment for a priori motivation, the findings of this study can be used to provide useful information to instructors and administrators related to the effectiveness of instruction in experientially-oriented courses.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, Dept. of Psychology.
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 57-66).
"July 2006."
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