Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title



Quality education in university rankings has been mainly assessed using institutional resources and reputational surveys without data to back up perceptions. Specifically, none of the indicators used addresses the absolute qualities of how well teachers teach or how well students learn. Would inclusion of data on student learning, student engagement, and teaching effectiveness impact the current rankings? This paper attempts to address this question using data collected by institutions from students who participate in official course evaluations. Publicly available data from course evaluations at Harvard Medical School show that eight students evaluated teaching effectiveness in seven different courses taught during Spring 2021 at 4.8 (on a scale of 1 to 5). No data on learning or student engagement were presented. Conclusions about teaching effectiveness cannot be drawn from data collected from small number of students, from a single academic term; as such, the findings cannot be generalized. At University of Georgia, 1,835 students evaluated teaching effectiveness in 10 different biology courses taught between Fall 2010 and Fall 2014 at 4.6 (on a scale of 1 to 5). Learning experience was rated at 4.5; and student engagement at 4.5. This paper proposes that departments or divisions use official course evaluations to publicly present data on teaching effectiveness, learning experience, and student engagement. Data must be driven from a minimum of 1,500 evaluations from at least 10 representative courses taught within a discipline, within the past 20 years. Courses must range from introductory- to senior-, and one graduate-level course; may include no more than two courses with less than five evaluations each; as results from very small classes can't be used due to reliability concerns. This paper suggests that university rankings can be improved by including the quantifiable and comparable data of official course evaluations, and being less reliant on reputation surveys.

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