Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Research examining the relation between student characteristics and individual student evaluations of college teaching has often pooled data across classes, thereby mixing between- and within-class variability and allowing the possibility of obscuring differential within-class relationships. To avoid these difficulties, the present study examined associations between student characteristics and evaluations of teaching within separate classes. Each of 278 students from six undergraduate classes completed a questionnaire assessing perceptions of instructional effectiveness and teacher personality, as well as their own personality, interest in the course, gender, university level, grades, perceptions of amount learned, likelihood of future course enrollment, and attitude toward university instruction. Averaged across classes, individual student evaluations were found to correlate with: other subjective indices of teaching effectiveness (ratings of amount learned and likelihood of future enrollment); perceived teacher nurturance, achievement, orderliness, and neuroticism (negatively related); perceived positive student-teacher dissimilarity in nurturance, extraversion, achievement, orderliness, and neuroticism; interest in the course; university level; and attitudes toward university instruction. Averaged across classes, however, individual student evaluations failed to correlate significantly with: perceived student-teacher similarity in personality; students' university grade average; course grades; perceived grading leniency; gender; area of major; or student personality. The relationship between student personality and evaluations, however, was found to differ across classes for 3 of 5 dimensions, demonstrating the utility of within-class analyses. Moreover, these differences were found to be related to differences between classes in mean perceptions of relevant teacher personality traits. Certain types of students seemed to find certain types of instructors to be most effective; whereas other types of students seemed to find other types of instructors to be most effective. Findings were interpreted as evidence for the validity of student ratings of instructional effectiveness and discussed in terms of understanding and improving college instruction.



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