The Torment of Teaching Evaluations

A rather sobering response to a hard-working teacher’s request for advice for how she can increase her teaching evaluation scores:
“Simplest of all, you can give higher grades, which do correlate with student ratings. You can use more hand gestures, modulate your voice more, and walk while you talk. Students give higher evaluations to teachers who are good-looking or very dramatic. This is called ‘the Dr. Fox effect,’ named for a hired actor who purported to be ‘Dr. Fox’ and who gave a nonsensical university lecture in a wildly entertaining style, and got outstanding student evaluations for his brilliance.”

Now, advice that doesn’t require teachers to get plastic surgery or take acting lessons:
“Learn students’ names, create discussion circles, assign hands-on group projects, require in-class presentations, encourage role-playing. Today’s students learn by doing — making a Civil War-era quilt from info they find on the Internet, writing a sonnet or song, cooking the quail in rose petal sauce from Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. You may fear that you’re somehow denying your students access to The Expert (you). But especially if they are teenagers, most of them would really rather interact with each other than listen to you.” Ms MentorThe Torment of Teaching EvaluationsChronicle)