Reliability-Related Issues in the Context of Student Evaluations of Teaching in Higher Education

Ilker Kalender


Student evaluations of teaching (SET) forms have been the principal instrument to elicit students’ opinion in higher education institutions. Many decisions, including high-stake ones, are made based on SET scores reported by students. In this respect, reliability of SET scores is of considerable importance. But this paper has an argument that there are some problems in choosing and use of reliability indices in SET context. Three hypothesizes were tested: (i) using internal consistency measures is misleading in SET context since the variability is mainly due to disagreement between students’ ratings which requires use of inter-rater reliability coefficients, (ii) number of minimum feedbacks is not achieved in most of the classes, resulting unreliable decisions, and (iii) calculating reliability assuming a common factor structure across all classes is misleading because a common factorial model may not be tenable for all. Results showed that use of only internal consistency to assess SET scores may be misleading. Considerable large numbers of missing feedbacks were observed to achieve acceptable reliability levels. Findings also indicated that factorial models differed across several groups, which calculation of reliability coefficients become problematic.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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