Utilizing cognitive dissonance theory to improve student ratings of college faculty
Carson, Rebecca Davis
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This research in the spring of 1999 investigated how to improve the student ratings of college faculty utilizing the theory of cognitive dissonance. The study explored how dissonance, created when a faculty member experienced lower than expected midsemester student ratings in comparison with his or her self-ratings, could be resolved by the faculty member changing his or her teaching behavior. The purposes were to test this theory and to recommend new procedures for the use of student ratings in faculty evaluations. It was predicted that midsemester written feedback to the faculty would enhance their teaching effectiveness and a consultation workshop at midsemester would enhance teaching effectiveness even more. The three faculty groups included: a control group, a written feedback group, and a consultation group. The null hypotheses stated-there would be no significant difference: (a) among the three groups with respect to end of semester student ratings, (b) between the mid- and end-of-semester student ratings for faculty in the feedback group, (c) between the mid- and end-of-semester student ratings for faculty in the consultation group, and (d) in the differences between the consultation and feedback groups. The experimental design used was a Pretest-Posttest Control-Group design. The student rating instrument used was the Individual Development and Educational Assessment (IDEA) Student Rating of Instruction System. The sample population consisted of sixty-one faculty members from a small, private liberal arts college. The student ratings were processed at the IDEA Center in Manhatten, Kansas. Data analysis included analysis of covariance and variance.