Review of Asking Students About Teaching

November 15, 2012

Asking Students about Teaching seeks to establish that student surveys provide valid evidence that can be used for evaluation of and feedback for teachers. The report then proceeds to advise practitioners about optimal practices for administering student surveys and using survey information. As the report contends, student surveys are a useful tool in practitioners’ and policymakers’ toolkits, and the report contains many practical pieces of advice that are sensible and worth putting into practice. But a major limitation of the report is that the claimed relationship between student survey reports and teacher effectiveness is not supported by the evidence provided. A broader limitation of the report is that many of the findings and conclusions are presented too uncritically and without sufficient justification. Developers of the MET project embrace the idea that multiple measures of teaching effectiveness are needed to represent such a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon. In discussing the potential uses of student surveys, however, this report’s stance is lopsided, placing too much weight on the strengths of student surveys and not enough weight on their weaknesses. A potential concern is that glib implementation of some of the report’s recommendations might result in an unwarranted overconfidence in student survey results.

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