Some subscribers to MathEdCC might be interested in a recent post "Why Do Colleges Tie Academic Careers To Winning the Approval of Teenagers?" [Hake (2013)]. The abstract reads:
ABSTRACT: An insightful critique of the misuse of Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs) for the evaluation of faculty appeared in the WSJ of 27 Oct 2013 as a piece "When Students Rate Teachers, Standards Drop: Why do colleges tie academic careers to winning the approval of teenagers? Something is seriously amiss" [Asher (2013)] at <http://on.wsj.com/17te3oN> and copied into the APPENDIX of this post in accord with the Fair Use provision of U.S. Copyright Law.
Coincidentally, on 29 Oct 2013, I received an email from an assistant professor "X" who fears that he will be denied tenure because the Chair of his department, winner of numerous teaching awards [probably based solely on superior student teaching evaluations (SETs)], thinks X's SETs are inferior and therefore that X is an inferior teacher. I surmise that since the Chair's superior SETs, taken at face value, indicate that he, himself, is a superior teacher, a judgment with which he doubtless concurs, the Chair is prone to regard SETs as definitive evidence of teaching effectiveness. But the references in this post indicate that (a) teaching awards do NOT necessarily equate with teaching effectiveness; (b) SETs are NOT valid gauges of the *cognitive* (as opposed to the *affective*) impact of courses; and (c) SETs should NOT be used to evaluate faculty.
"Physics educators have led the way in developing and using objective tests to compare student learning gains in different types of courses, and chemists, biologists, and others are now developing similar instruments. These tests provide convincing evidence that students assimilate new knowledge more effectively in courses including active, inquiry-based, and collaborative learning, assisted by information technology, than in traditional courses." - Wood & Gentile (2003) at <http://bit.ly/SyhOvL> .