Performance Measurement at Universities: Studying Function and Effect of Student Evaluations of Teaching
This paper proposes empirical approaches to testing the reliability, validity, and organizational effectiveness of student evaluations of teaching (SET) as a performance measurement instrument in knowledge management at the institutional level of universities. Departing from Weber’s concept of bureaucracy and critical responses to this concept, we discuss how contemporary SET are used as an instrument of organizational control at Danish universities. A discussion of the current state of performance measurement within the frame of new public management (NPM) and its impact on knowledge creation and legitimation forms the basis for proposing four steps of investigation. The suggested mixed-methods approach comprises the following: first, thematic analysis can serve as a tool to evaluate the legitimacy discourse as initiated by official SET affirmative documents by government, university, and students. Second, constructs for the SET questionnaire can be developed and compared to existing SET questionnaires in terms of reliability and validity. Third, data from SET can be used to corroborate the relationship between the qualitative (comments) and quantitative (scaled questionnaire) sections. Fourth, it can be investigated if SET actually contribute to teaching improvement by examining how the instrument is integrated into systematic ex-ante and ex-post organizational management. It is expected to find discrepancy between the proponents’ intent to evaluate teaching and the way the performance measurement instrument is implemented.
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