Distinguished Lecture: Nira Hativa

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Are Student Ratings of Instruction Reliable and Valid?

Student ratings of instruction (SRI) are one of the most controversial issues in institutions of higher education. Faculty and administrators have been engaged in extensive debates on countless concerns, beliefs, myths and misconceptions regarding potential biasing factors affecting student ratings.

In spite of the solid research evidence countering most faculty reservations, such misconceptions and concerns persist and continue to spread, leading faculty and administrators to question the overall reliability and validity of student ratings and the appropriateness of their use or misuse, particularly in making personnel decisions.
My talk will address issues related to faculty misperceptions, concerns, and reservations related to SRIs, seeking to provide valid and reliable information on the basis of established research literature, including my own studies at Stanford University and particularly at TAU. Additional topics may include numerical and graphical distributions of teacher ratings data, the use of comparison groups in reporting survey results, relationships between teacher and course ratings (ratings of same/different instructors teaching repeatedly same/different courses), issues related to student open responses/written comments, the use of the Overall Teaching item to represent results of SRIs in decision making, and more. I'll illustrate many of the topics by graphical representations that are mostly based on my own studies.

Short bio
Nira Hativa is professor emeritus of teaching in higher education at Tel-Aviv University (TAU).

Hativa received her undergraduate and masters degrees in mathematics from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and her Ph.D. in math education from Stanford University. Her dissertation research that took place at the Stanford math department, looked to identify “what makes” effective teaching of mathematics. Until recently, she served as the director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and of the project of the online student ratings system at TAU.

During her tenure at TAU she has spent four year-long sabbaticals at Stanford University. One of these was at the Physics Dept. (being sponsored by Nobel laureate Douglas Osheroff) on a grant to improve instruction in that department.

In addition to her many publications in Hebrew, she has published in English five books, two DVD discs (demonstrating effective classroom teaching strategies by 24 award-winning Stanford faculty), and numerous articles and book chapters on issues related to effective teaching in higher education and to student ratings of instruction.


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