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Abstract

Grade inflation has long been an issue in academia, and with this comes the concern that instructors will feel pressured to inflate grades in order to improve student evaluations of their teaching. Many historical studies have demonstrated associations between higher grades and higher teaching evaluations. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the relationship between high grades and high teaching evaluations, and their association with other indicators of course difficulty. Anonymous, end-of-semester, teaching evaluations were collected from 156 studentsin 6 sections of 3 unique courses in the Psychology department of a large Southeastern University between 2011 and 2014. Students were asked to report on various aspects of their learning experience, including their instructor’s effectiveness, the level of mutual respect in the classroom, and their expected grade in the course, among other variables. Students’ agreement with the statement, “Overall, the instructor’s teaching was effective,” positively related to their evaluation of all individual aspects of the instructor’s effectiveness (e.g., “The instructor was well-prepared”; “The instructor presented subject matter clearly”; all r’s> .433; all p’s < .001). However, student evaluations of overall instructor effectiveness showed no association with their expected grade in the course (r=.133, p= .101), nor with the number of writing assignments or exams given by the instructor (all r’s .088). The results imply that instructors need not feel pressured to reduce course demands in order to improve student evaluations.

 

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