Student evaluations and the problem of implicit bias

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College of Business


This article addresses the implicit bias problems inherent in using student evaluations when making employment decisions concerning university faculty members. Research indicates that student evaluations contain implicit bias regarding race, gender, and a variety of other protected categories. We begin by looking at the current use, purpose and structure of student evaluations. We then explore what implicit bias is and the research that demonstrates that most of us have some sort of implicit bias. Once the concept of implicit bias is explained, we examine the research that indicates there is implicit bias in student evaluations. We then discuss the law and implicit bias generally, followed by specific legal issues that are raised. Next, we examine recent trends at some universities which have recognized and begun to address the problems with student evaluations. Finally, we offer recommendations as to how to evaluate faculty members' teaching using alternative methods.

Publication Title

Journal of College and University Law