Dennis Clayson's college students have picked apart everything from his "impossible" tests to his choice of neckties.
The University of Northern Iowa marketing professor says he doesn't take criticism personally when students grade him on teacher evaluations, but he has wondered: Do they always tell the truth?The answer is no, Clayson and a Southeastern Oklahoma State University marketing professor found, in what they say is the first study of its kind
About a third of students surveyed at both schools admitted they had stretched the truth on anonymous teacher evaluations, which teachers at colleges circulate at semester's end. A majority, 56 percent, said they know other students who have done the same. Twenty percent of participants admitted they had lied on the comments section of the evaluations.
The good news: Students fib in some cases to make their instructors look good, the study shows. The bad news: More often, they do it to punish professors they don't like.
The more interesting stuff, in my eyes, is the sidebar, with students' responses to some other questions about these evaluations:
• Do you think that teachers who are evaluated become better teachers? Yes: 68.4 percent
• Do you think that the comments written on the evaluations are read by the teacher? Yes: 74.2 percent
• Do you think that the comments written on the evaluations are read by administrators? Yes: 50.6 percent
• Do you personally know of a teacher who was let go because of bad evaluations? Yes: 6.8 percent
The intriguing thing here is that students have a lot of confidence in the efficacy of evaluations to improve teaching, but think their institutions (represented by administrators, I gather) care relatively little about good teaching. What are we to make of that?