Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


New study says more than third of students lie on course evaluations

Although all students must complete end-of-semester professor and teacher assistant evaluations, a new study shows that some students may not be truthful about their opinions.

The study, conducted by Northern Illinois University professor of marketing Dennis Clayson and Southeastern Oklahoma State University professor of marketing Debra Haley, examined student responses on professor evaluations and found students purposely report false information to reward or to punish instructors.

Clayson said they asked 236 students at two universities about what they write on professor evaluations and what other people they know write in the evaluations.


According to the study, about one-third of all students have written something on evaluations that did not accurately reflect their opinions of the class or the professor.

The study also reported about 56 percent of students reported they knew somebody who had given a professor a better or worse evaluation than they thought the instructor deserved.

Clayson said the study analyzed an area that is not often touched in the learning community because universities really do not question whether or not students are giving honest responses.

Universities spend a lot of money to do these evaluations, but they may be hurting the quality of education instead of improving it, Clayson said.

He said the research indicates faculty members change their behavior as a result of the responses they receive from students due to the pressure to get good reviews.

Professors may feel reluctant to push students to do better when it would be beneficial for the student in order to avoid getting a bad review, Clayson said.

He said they may also feel compelled to inflate grades, which does not give an accurate assessment of the success of the class.

University of Wisconsin Vice Provost Aaron Brower said evaluations do play a role in the overall evaluation of professors.

He said after the forms are filled out by students, they are sent to the school and college the professor is associated with and are examined by the department chairs.

Professors are evaluated on many different things, including student feedback and their own personal goals and philosophies in teaching.

He added the evaluations are important, but they do not paint the entire picture.

“Professor evaluations do a good job of giving a sense of how much a student enjoyed a class, but it does not necessarily reflect what they learned,” Brower said.

Graduate student and teaching assistant Dave Wilcox said it is important for teaching assistants to get good evaluations because they play a vital role in maintaining their position at the university.

Wilcox said while professors have multiple aspects they are evaluated on other than student feedback, teaching assistants are, for the most part, only evaluated on their end-of-semester evaluations.

He added he would not be surprised if some people put down false information on evaluations.

“Students feel it is their one remaining way to get back at that person,” Wilcox said.

University of Wisconsin junior Danielle Bade said she always puts accurate information on professor evaluations.

“I think that’s the only way they can improve they can improve the class,” Bade said.

Bade said she thought most students are truthful with evaluations, but, if anything, they are a lot nicer than they should be.

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