Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Male" instructors receive higher evaluation scores in online class


A new study shows that college students in online courses give better evaluations to instructors they think are men – even when the instructor is actually a woman. . . .

“We found that the instructor whom students thought was male received higher ratings on all 12 traits, regardless of whether the instructor was actually male or female,” MacNell says. “There was no difference between the ratings of the actual male and female instructors.” . . . .

“The difference in the promptness rating is a good example for discussion,” MacNell says. “Classwork was graded and returned to students at the same time by both instructors. But the instructor students thought was male was given a 4.35 rating out of 5. The instructor students thought was female got a 3.55 rating.”

source (including abstract); Slate article; discussion on historiann's blog


  1. I wonder if it matters what kind of course is being taught.

  2. I wonder if it matters whether the students doing the rating are male or female. Nowadays college students are 55-60% female.

    1. Last time I saw something that looked at that question was a while ago, but I'm pretty sure that the effects were actually surprisingly similar. You might expect a difference, but apparently not much.

      I remain surprised, given what we know about the tendencies to downgrade female and minority instructors, that the use of these customer satisfaction surveys as employment determinants hasn't been challenged more widely.


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