Validating dental and medical students' evaluations of faculty teaching in an integrated, multi-instructor course.

Terry D. Stratton, Donald B. Witzke, Mary Jane Freund, Martha T. Wilson, Robert J. Jacob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


As more students from various health professions are combined into integrated courses, evaluating the teaching quality of individual faculty in these typically large, multi-instructor contexts becomes increasingly difficult. Indeed, students who lack sufficient recall of a given faculty member or are not committed to the evaluation process may respond by marking identical responses to all evaluation items (e.g., 3-3-3-3-3), regardless of the specific content of the items on the faculty evaluation questionnaire. These "straight-lining" behaviors-more formally referred to as monotonic response patterns (MRPs)-often reflect students' inattention to the task at hand or lack of motivation to be discriminating, which may result in invalid data. This study examines the prevalence of MRP ratings in relation to indicators reflective of students' lack of attention to evaluating the quality of faculty teaching. Dental and medical students in a required, second-year (medicine) basic science course conducted by the medical school and taught primarily by medical school faculty completed seven-item faculty evaluation forms, along with an anonymous questionnaire measuring their need to evaluate, attitudes toward faculty evaluation, and recall of instructors. MRP ratings failed to correlate significantly with students' need to evaluate or their attitudes toward faculty evaluation. However, among medical students, MRP "straight-line" responses were more prevalent for raters who recalled faculty members "very well" (p=.04). For dental students, MRPs were associated with less accurate recall (p=.01). As such, the validity of faculty evaluations within integrated, multi-instructor courses may vary when students rate distinct aspects of a teacher's performance identically. In this case-in which medical students' greater recall of instructors coincides with MRPs-ratings may suffice as global, holistic assessments of an instructor's teaching. For dental students, similar ratings may be less viable. Individual item analysis is cautioned under any circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-670
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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