Student Ratings of Instruction: Examining the Role of Academic Field, Course Level, and Class Size
Laughlin, Anne Margaret
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This dissertation investigated the relationship between course characteristics and student ratings of instruction at a large research intensive university. Specifically, it examined the extent to which academic field, course level, and class size were associated with variation in mean class ratings. Past research consistently identifies differences between student ratings in different academic fields, but offers no unifying conceptual framework for the definition or categorization of academic fields. Therefore, two different approaches to categorizing classes into academic fields were compared - one based on the institution's own academic college system and one based on Holland's (1997) theory of academic environments. Because the data violated assumptions of normality and homogeneity of variance, traditional ANOVA procedures were followed by post-hoc analyses using bootstrapping to more accurately estimate standard errors and confidence intervals. Bootstrapping was also used to determine the statistical significance of a difference between the effect sizes of academic college and Holland environment, a situation for which traditional statistical tests have not been developed. Findings replicate the general pattern of academic field differences found in prior research on student ratings and offer several unique contributions. They confirm the value of institution-specific approaches to defining academic fields and also indicate that Holland's theory of academic environments may be a useful conceptual framework for making sense of academic field differences in student ratings. Building on past studies that reported differences in mean ratings across academic fields, this study describes differences in the variance of ratings across academic fields. Finally, this study shows that class size and course level may impact student ratings differently - in terms of interaction effects and magnitude of effects - depending on the academic field of the course.
- Doctoral Dissertations