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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Giving Students Chocolate Increases Teaching Evaluation Ratings

Hershey_kissFrom Empirical Legal Studies blog:  "A recent study to be published in an upcoming issue of Teaching of Psychology Journal, found that students who eat chocolate before filling out a course evaluation may give their professor a higher rating than they otherwise would."

The article has a wonderful title:  Fudging the Numbers: Distributing Chocolate Influences Student Evaluations of an Undergraduate Course.  Here is the abstract:

Student evaluations are an important source of information for instructors seeking to improve their teaching methods and for academic departments to evaluate an instructor's teaching effectiveness. Prior research has shown that student evaluations may be mediated by several unintended aspects of a course. In this study, we examined whether a positive event that is entirely external to the course would increase average student evaluations. Students from three different lectures taught by the same instructor evaluated the courses and instructor, with half offered chocolate before the evaluations took place. Overall, students in the chocolate condition rated the instructor more positively than did the non-chocolate control group. This result raises questions about how to standardize evaluation procedures to minimize and control for the influence of external factors on student evaluations.

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