CSE Distinguished Lecture: Philip Stark

CSE Distinguished Lecture

Student Evaluations (Mostly) Don’t Measure Teaching Effectiveness

The seventh speaker in the Fall 2016 CSE Distinguished Lecture Series is Philip Stark, Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at UC Berkeley. Professor Stark will discuss how “Student Evaluations (Mostly) Don’t Measure Teaching Effectiveness.”

Date: Monday, November 14
Time: 11:00am – Noon
Location: Room 1202, CSE Building

Host: CSE Prof. Hovav Shacham

Abstract: Student evaluations of teaching (SET) are widely used in academic personnel decisions as a measure of teaching effectiveness. Compelling observational evidence shows that student ratings vary with an instructor’s gender, ethnicity, and attractiveness; with course rigor, mathematical content, and format; and with students’ grade expectations. Randomized experiments show that SET are negatively associated with objective measures of instructor “value added” and that SET are biased against female instructors by an amount that is large and statistically significant. This bias affects how students rate even putatively objective aspects of teaching, such as how promptly assignments are graded. The bias varies by discipline and by student gender, among other things. It is not possible to adjust for the bias, because it depends on so many factors. SET are more sensitive to students’ gender bias and grade expectations than they are to teaching effectiveness. Gender biases can be large enough to cause more effective instructors to get lower SET than less effective instructors.

Bio:  Philip Stark received an AB from Princeton University (Philosophy) and a PhD from UC San Diego (Earth Science). His research centers on inference problems and nonparametrics, especially confidence procedures tailored for specific goals. Applications include the Big Bang, the U.S. census, climate modeling, earthquake prediction, election integrity, food security and sustainability, food web models, the geomagnetic field, geriatric hearing loss, high-energy physics, information retrieval, Internet content filters, legislation, litigation, risk assessment, the seismic structure of Sun and Earth, spectroscopy, spectrum estimation, teaching evaluations, and uncertainty quantification for computational models of complex systems. Stark is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Physics. He has received a number of honors and awards, most recently the Chancellor’s Award for Research in the Public Interest (2011), the John Gideon Award for Election Integrity (2011), the Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Transparency in Social Science (2015), and a Velux/Villum Foundation Visiting Professorship (2015).