College & Workforce Readiness Opinion

Professor Bonuses Based on Course Evaluations?

By Eduwonkette — January 12, 2009 1 min read
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Forget a PhD - profs might do better with improv training and Botox (seriously, attractive professors - especially attractive men - get better evaluations!). Reported this morning in the Chronicle:

The chancellor of the Texas A&M University system wants to give faculty members bonuses of up to $10,000, based on student evaluations, but some professors are raising concerns about the plan, saying it could become a popularity contest....Though details are preliminary, officials said, the goal is to offer awards starting at $2,500 to the top 15 percent of participating instructors.

To be sure, good teaching is insufficiently rewarded at most colleges and universities. But according to the Chancellor, “This is customer satisfaction....It doesn’t have to do with tenure, promotion, status. It has to do with students’ having the opportunity to recognize good teachers and reward them with some money.”

But is good teaching the same thing as “customer satisfaction?” Is there a better way to recognize and reward effective college teaching? Or, as one commenter at the Chronicle augured, are we left with this bargain?

Wow. What an easy way to make up to 10,000 dollars! Just water-down my courses, make no demands on students, make sure to bring donuts or some sort of snacks on the day of evaluations, and make sure my students know I think they are incredibly bright and they will get an A. Cha-ching!

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