The PolyU Student Feedback Questionnaire (SFQ) System

  Understanding the Nature and Limitations of Student Feedback on Teaching  
  [Last modified January 2007]  
  Table 7: What research has shown about the relationship between student ratings and other background variables  
Major findings
Administrative procedures
a. Timing of evaluation Little or no effect
b. Anonymity of raters Slightly higher ratings when students need to identify themselves
c. Teacher's presence Slightly higher ratings when teacher being evaluated is present
d. Stated purpose of evaluation Slightly higher ratings if stated purpose is for promotion and tenure
Course characteristics
a. Electivity Higher ratings for elective or non-required courses
b. Time of class No consistent effect
c. Level of course Higher ratings for higher-level courses
d. Class size Higher ratings for smaller classes (some have found a curvilinear U-shaped relationship)
e. Subject area Higher ratings for humanities & arts, lower ratings for social sciences, still lower for mathematics and sciences
f. Difficulty/workload Higher ratings for more difficult/demanding courses
Teacher characteristics
a. Rank No or a weak positive relationship for regular teachers
b. Teaching experience No or a weak negative relationship
c. Research productivity No or a weak positive relationship
d. Personality Few personality traits correlate with ratings
e. Expressiveness Higher ratings for more expressive, enthusiastic teaching
f. Gender No significant consistent relationship but a possible interactive effect between teacher and student gender
g. Physical appearance No or a weak positive relationship, but a significant interactive effect between gender, physical appearance and style
Student characteristics
a. Prior subject interest Higher ratings from students with a higher prior interest
b. Expected grade Higher ratings from students expecting to get a higher grade
c. Gender of students Inconsistent findings
d. Personality No relationship