In an opinion piece published by Inside Higher Ed, Ann Owen, the Henry Platt Bristol Professor of Economics, wrote about oft-biased student evaluations and how their use in assessing faculty leads to inequitable outcomes and could result in future lawsuits.
In the June 24 essay, she points to the fact that “Study after study shows that student evaluations of teaching contain bias against women and people of color. Yet it is common practice at many colleges and universities to use such biased instruments as an important element in major personnel decisions, including those involving hiring, reappointments, promotions, salaries, and tenure.”
Arguing for a change in the system, Owen points out that, “Using a biased evaluation system leaves fewer role models for underrepresented students, which then simply perpetuates that pattern and leads to an ever-narrower representation in many important fields of study. This system must be significantly rethought and reformed. Although it would take considerable effort, the stakes are high. It would be well worth the time spent.”