AirTalk for July 1, 2010

DON’T rate my professors: Do student evaluations improve—or impair—education?

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Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Students crowd around grades.

Texas has developed a plan to implement student evaluations in public schools, allocating funding according to student satisfaction. But, students don’t consume education the way they do a hamburger, warns Stanley Fish in The New York Times. Teacher evaluations, he worries, only account for present satisfaction, but cannot possibly predict what a student will find valuable decades after a course’s completion. How much weight should be placed on students’ evaluations of their teachers? Will student-consumers incite snappier, more relevant instruction? Or will thought-provoking pedagogy fail to make the grade?


Stanley Fish, columnist whose opinion piece appeared in The New York Times. He is a professor of law at Florida International University and the author of 11 books, most recently "Save the World On Your Own Time," on higher education

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