Date of Award
This study sought to determine what constitutes a minimally meaningful difference in student evaluations of their professors, when students are asked to rate their professors on the traditional 5-point teaching effectiveness item commonly used in higher education. A minimally meaningful difference is the smallest difference between two ratings that: 1) exceeds chance variation and 2) corresponds to a difference deemed meaningful using some external anchor or standard. Data was obtained through a series of surveys given to students at Butler University and to an online nationwide sample. Analysis occurred through both an anchor-based approach, using data obtained from a single survey, and a distribution-based method, using data obtained from two surveys administered two weeks apart. Both methods were used to find the minimal meaningful difference in student evaluations of professors. A meaningful difference of .84 was found when participants were asked to distinguish between two professors of higher quality. A meaningful difference of .75 was found when participants were asked to distinguish between two professors of lower quality. Both differences exceeded chance variation.
Bain, Catherine, "Do Differences in Teaching Evaluations Really Matter? An Investigation into What Constitutes a Meaningful Difference in Evaluations of Professors" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 517.