His experiment took place with students at the Bocconi University Department of Economics in Milan, Italy. There, students are given a cognitive test on entry, which establishes their basic aptitude, and they are randomly assigned to professors.
The paper compared the student evaluations of a particular professor to another measure of teacher quality: how those students performed in a subsequent course. In other words, if I have Dr. Muccio in Microeconomics I, what's my grade next year in Macroeconomics II?
Here's what he found. The better the professors were, as measured by their students' grades in later classes, the lower their ratings from students.
"If you make your students do well in their academic career, you get worse evaluations from your students," Pellizzari said. Students, by and large, don't enjoy learning from a taskmaster, even if it does them some good.
There's an intriguing exception to the pattern: Classes full of highly skilled students do give highly skilled teachers high marks. Perhaps the smartest kids do see the benefit of being pushed.
--Anya Kamenetz, NPR, on another strike against student evaluations. See the randomized evidence from the U.S. Air Force Academy here. HT: PW