Journal article
(Original article)


Selection Bias in Students' Evaluation of Teaching:Causes of Student Absenteeism and Its Consequences for Course Ratings and Rankings


Publication Details
Author(s): Wolbring T, Treischl E
Publication year: 2016
Journal issue: 57
Pages range: 51–71
ISSN: 0361-0365
Language: English

Abstract

Systematic sampling error due to self-selection is a common topic in
methodological research and a key challenge for every empirical study. Since selection
bias is often not sufficiently considered as a potential flaw in research on and evaluations in
higher education, the aim of this paper is to raise awareness for the topic using the case of
students’ evaluations of teaching (SET). First, we describe students’ selection decisions at
different points of their studies and elaborate potential biases which they might cause for
SET. Then we empirically illustrate the problem and report findings from a design with
two measurement points in time showing that approximately one third of the students do
not attend class at the second time of measurement, when the regular SET takes place.
Furthermore, the results indicate that the probability of absenteeism is influenced by course
quality, students’ motivation, course topic, climate among course participants, course- and
workload, and timing of the course. Although data are missing not at random, average
ratings do not strongly change after adjusting for selection bias. However, we find substantial
changes in rankings based on SET. We conclude from this that, at least as regards
selection bias, SET are a reliable instrument to assess quality of teaching at the individual
level but are not suited for the comparison of courses.



How to cite
APA: Wolbring, T., & Treischl, E. (2016). Selection Bias in Students' Evaluation of Teaching:Causes of Student Absenteeism and Its Consequences for Course Ratings and Rankings. Research in Higher Education, 57, 51–71. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11162-015-9378-7

MLA: Wolbring, Tobias, and Edgar Treischl. "Selection Bias in Students' Evaluation of Teaching:Causes of Student Absenteeism and Its Consequences for Course Ratings and Rankings." Research in Higher Education 57 (2016): 51–71.

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