Bias in Student Evaluations of Minority Faculty: A Selected Bibliography of Recent Publications, 2005 to Present
Anderson, K. J., & Smith, G. Students preconceptions of professors: Benefits and barriers according to ethnicity and gender. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 2005, Vol. 27, Issue 2, 184-201.
Abstract: “The present study examined the influence of professor and student characteristics on students’ preconceptions of college professors. Course syllabi for a politically charged social science course were constructed with versions varying by teaching style, professor gender, and professor ethnicity. A total of 633 (44% Latino; 34% African American; 22% Anglo) undergraduates rated the course and the instructor on professor warmth, professor capability, and political bias. Among several findings associated with professor ethnicity and teaching style, Latina professors were viewed as more warm when they had a lenient teaching style and less warm when they had a strict teaching style when compared with Anglo women professors with respective styles. Anglo men students perceived professors as more politically biased than did other students. Results are discussed in the context of aversive racism and a double standard of evaluation for Latino professors.”
Abstract: "These results say that instructors can manipulate student evaluations by giving out better grades," said Bruce Weinberg, one of the authors of the study. "This does not mean that the evaluations contain no information, but they need to be used with extreme caution and ideally adjusted for grading leniency." Higher education articles and books have contained firsthand accounts of minority faculty who say that White students openly question the intellectual caliber of minority professors and judge them by "unspoken" … racist standards. Sociologists say that these unconscious biases and stereotypes are manifested when students bring preconceived cultural perceptions to class. For example, students might assume that a Latino faculty member is an immigrant or that an African-American professor is not a "serious" scholar. Critics say this type of discrimination seeps into die evaluation process. "We cannot say why this might be the case - discrimination, a distaste for foreign accents, or unmeasured differences in teaching quality," said Weinberg. "Nevertheless, the lower evaluations for women and foreign-born instructors warrant additional study."
Huston, Therese (compiler). Research report: Race and gender bias in student evaluations of teaching. 2005. Seattle University, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
Summary: This research report is a literature review (through 2005) of race/gender bias in student evaluations of teaching.
Lazos, Sylvia R. Are Student Teaching Evaluations Holding Back Women and Minorities? The Perils of “Doing” Gender and Race in the Classroom. Chapter 12 of Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia. Edited by Gutiérrez y Muhs, Gabriella et al. (Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado; Utah State University Press, 2011.
Extract: “…institutions should think about teaching and the evaluative process more creatively. Suggestions from Professor Merritt include: Use focus groups mediated by outsiders. Do evaluations less often but more deeply. Get students to think, not react intuitively. Each teacher should get feedback at least once during the semester and react to it. Think of teaching as on ongoing process not an end product…If decision makers do not take the time or care to fully understand the candidate’s teaching file, including evaluations, and permit important personnel decisions to proceed on the basis of potentially misleading or biased data, then they ethically fail the professoriate, students, and the institution.”
Reid, Landon D. The Role of Perceived Race and Gender in the Evaluation of College Teaching on RateMyProfessors.com. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 2010, 3 (No. 3) pp. 137-152.
Summary: In a study of whether student evaluations of college teaching are biased by the instructor’s race or gender, evaluations of teaching were obtained from RateMyProfessors.com for faculty teaching at the 25 highest ranked liberal arts colleges. The students evaluated the racial minority faculty, especially the Black faculty, more negatively than they did the White faculty. The Asian faculty also received negative ratings relative to all other groups except the Black faculty. Whereas overall quality and easiness were positively related for the White and the Hispanic faculty, they were unrelated for the Black and the Asian faculty.
Smith Bettye. Student Ratings of Teaching Effectiveness: An Analysis of End-Of-Course Faculty Evaluations. College Student Journal. December 2007; 41(4):788-800.
Abstract: “The purpose of this study was to describe student ratings of teaching effectiveness for faculty in the College of Education (COE) at a Research I institution in the Southern United States. Student ratings of teaching effectiveness were analyzed for the 190 tenure-track faculty in this study based on race (White, Black, and "Other" racial groups which included Asians, Latinos, and Native-Americans). Three academic years of undergraduate and graduate level courses combined were used to analyze student ratings for 28 items (26 multidimensional and 2 global) on the end-of-course evaluation form. Mean ratings indicated that White faculty and faculty identified as "Other" executed the 26 multidimensional items often in their teaching, whereas Black faculty executed 16 multidimensional items often in their teaching and ten items were executed occasionally. On the two global items (overall value of course and overall teaching ability), student ratings were very good for White faculty and faculty who were identified as "Other," and good for Black faculty. White faculty had significantly higher mean scores than Black faculty on the composite of multidimensional items and the two global items.”
Smith, Bettye P. and Hawkins, Billy. Examining Student Evaluations of Black College Faculty: Does Race Matter? The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 80, No. 2 (Spring 2011), pp. 149-162
Abstract: “The purpose of this study was twofold. First, to describe the undergraduate student ratings of teaching effectiveness based on the traditional 36-item end-of-course evaluation form used in the College of Education (COE) at a southeastern Research Extensive predominantly White institution. Second, using critical race theory (CRT) to compare the teaching effectiveness for the tenure-track faculty in this study based on race (White, Black, and Other racial groups including Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans). Three academic years of undergraduate level courses were used to analyze student ratings for 28 items (26 multidimensional, which address specific topics or a single aspect about instruction and 2 global/overall, which address value of course and teaching ability) on the end-of-course evaluation form. Eight of the 36 items request demographic information from the student. The findings showed that of the three faculty racial groups, Black faculty mean scores were the lowest on the 26 multidimensional items. On the two global items, which are used in making personnel decisions, Black faculty mean scores were also the lowest of the faculty groups analyzed.”
Smith, Gabriel and Anderson, Kristin J. Students’ Ratings of Professors: The Teaching Style Contingency for Latino/a Professors. Journal of Latinos and Education. Vol. 4, Issue 2, 2005.
Abstract: “This article examines the influence of gender, ethnicity (Latino/a or Anglo), and teaching style (lenient or strict) on students' perceptions of professors teaching a social science course. Undergraduates read and responded to a syllabus and rated the course and the instructor on dimensions such as warmth, knowledge, and political bias. Contrary to previous research, there were no significant effects associated with professor gender. However, there were several ethnicity by teaching style interactions. Latino/a professors received either the least or most favorable marks depending on whether they presented the course with a strict or lenient teaching style, respectively. Results are discussed in terms of aversive racism and the contingent nature of evaluation for Latino/a professors.”
Compiled by: Orlando Archibeque, Social Science Collection Development Librarian, Auraria Library, Orlando.Archibeque@ucdenver.edu, January 2014