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Implicit/Unconscious Bias

Implicit/Unconscious Bias:

Students’ Grade Satisfaction Influences Evaluations of Teaching: Evidence from Individual-level Data and an Experimental Intervention, Kogan, et al., EdWorkingPaper No. 22-513, January 2022.

  • In this article, the authors demonstrate that “student grade satisfaction—regardless of the underlying cause of the grades—appears to be an important driver of course evaluations.”

The F Word: The Role of Women’s Friendships in Navigating the Gendered Workplace of Academia, Kaeppel, et al., Human Resource Development Review, October 2020.

  • In this article, the authors demonstrate that “(1) Women’s friendships act as counterspaces that embed feminine values; (2) Women’s friendships counter the effects of workplace marginalization, and (3) Women’s friendships propel scholarly development.”

Unbiased, reliable, and valid student evaluations can still be unfair, Esarey and Valdes, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 2020

  • This study finds that even under the "most optimistic conditions for" student evaluations of teaching, SETs are unreliable.

Reconsidering Student Evaluations of Teaching, American Sociological Association, September 2019

  • This statement notes the problems with student evaluations and urges institutions to use alternate methods of evaluating teaching. It also cites recent research on this issue.

Mitigating gender bias in student evaluations of teaching, Peterson, et al., Plos One, May 2019

  • This study finds that giving students a reminder about gender bias prior to completing SETs reduces bias

Can women be biased against other women? Kang, et al., Outsmarting Human Minds, November 6, 2018

  • This article discusses research indicating that gender bias impacts all of us, regardless of our gender identity, and offers a few suggestions about how to mitigate it.

Availability of cookies during an academic course session affects evaluation of teaching from Medical Education, October 2018

  • "In our study we gave students access to chocolate cookies during a teaching session and compared their evaluations of the course session with the evaluations of a group of students without access to cookies. Our study amply demonstrates that students who had free access to chocolate cookies evaluated both the teacher and the course session significantly more highly than students who did not have access to cookies, even though both the intellectual content of the session and the teacher were identical."

Secret Service: Revealing Gender Bias in the Visibility and Value of Faculty Service from the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, August 2018

  • "[t]his interview study examined how institutional gender biases impact the visibility and evaluation of faculty service across the tenure-track career trajectory. Our findings reveal how task-oriented forms of service tend to be more visible and valued than relationally oriented service."

Student evalutions of teaching are not valid from Academe, May-June 2018

  • "SET scores are a poor measure of teaching effectiveness. They are correlated with many variables unrelated to teaching effectiveness, including the student’s grade expectation and enjoyment of the class; the instructor’s gender, race, age, and physical attractiveness; and the weather the day the survey is completed."

Research on Student Ratings Continues to Evolve. We Should Too. (February 2018)

In this blog post, Betsy Barre assesses two significant studies on student evaluations and makes some recommendations for best practices in using those evaluations.

Meta-analysis of faculty's teaching effectiveness: Student evaluation of teaching ratings and student learning are not related from Studies in Educational Evaluation, September 2017

  • "Our up-to-date meta-analysis of all multisection studies revealed no significant correlations between the SET ratings and learning. These findings suggest that institutions focused on student learning and career success may want to abandon SET ratings as a measure of faculty's teaching effectiveness."

Research suggests students are biased against female lecturers from The Economist, September 21, 2017

  • This article discusses a new study demonstrating gender bias in student evaluations of teaching.

Students Don’t Always Recognize Good Teaching, Study Finds, by Dan Berrett in the Chronicle of Higher Education, May 9, 2017

  • "High-quality instruction didn’t necessarily predict positive feedback on student evaluations, the researchers found. Instead, high marks on evaluations were most positively correlated with students’ grades in a course, meaning that instructors tended to be rewarded with high ratings if they gave good grades."

To Advance Science, It's Time to Tackle Unconscious Bias, by Geraldine Richmond, accessed 6.9.2016 on

Student evaluations of teaching are not only unreliable, they are significantly biased against female instructors, by Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark, accessed 6.13.2016 on the LSE Impact blog

Here are four articles which talk about gender bias in letters of recommendation:

If There’s Only One Woman in Your Candidate Pool, There’s Statistically No Chance She’ll Be Hired, by  Stefanie K. Johnson, David R. Hekman, and Elsa T. Chan, Harvard Business Review, April 26, 2016

  • Although the authors note that this research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, they have identified a strategy for increasing the hiring rates of women and minorities: "we believe this “get two in the pool effect” represents an important first step for overcoming unconscious biases and ushering in the racial and gender balance that we want in organizations.

Evaluating students’ evaluations of professors, by Michela Bragaa, Marco Paccagnellab, Michele Pellizzaric in Economics of Education Review,  August 2014

  • This study finds that students rate effective teachers more negatively: " Moreover, our measure of teaching quality is negatively correlated with the students’ evaluations of the professors: teachers who are associated with better subsequent performance receive worst [sic] evaluations from their students." Also, weather matters: "Our results show that students evaluate professors more negatively on rainy and cold days.

The Impact of Gender on the Evaluation of Teaching: What We Know and What We Can Do, by Heather Laube, et al., in NWSA Journal (2007) discusses gender bias in student evaluations and offers some suggestions for mitigating this bias.

Searching for Excellence & Diversity: A Guide for Search Committee Chairs is a guide developed by the Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI) at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Bias, the Brain, and Student Evaluations of Teaching, by Deborah J. Merritt. St. John's Law Review (2008)

Are Student Teaching Evaluations Holding Back Women and Minorities? by Sylvia R. Lazos in Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (2012)

Here is an Annotated Bibliography on Gender Bias in the Academe.

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