How Student Surveys Can Help Assess Teacher Instruction and Classroom Management

Jan 23, 2017 1:47:28 PM Emily Jensen

Effective teacher feedback is imperative to accurately assessing a teacher’s performance and ensuring the feedback ties in with instruction design and delivery.  Student reports are increasingly being used as a tool to evaluate instruction, further expanding how theories of effective teaching are informing which evaluation tools are used to improve the field of teaching. While most teacher evaluation systems use multiple measures to evaluate teacher performance including student test scores, classroom observation and teacher portfolios, student surveys can offer a unique and necessary perspective on teacher quality.  Advancing these theories of effective teaching on the basis of adolescent classroom experiences can advance the field of teacher professional development through using student intuition of a positive learning environment.

Nakkula and Toshalis (2006) note that student surveys help adolescents view themselves as “active co-constructors of learning ecologies” as students naturally resist educational environments that they think are unstable. Given this correlation between student surveys and classroom management factors, it becomes clear why student reports can provide insight into classroom environments that other evaluation tools cannot. Wallace, Kelcey and Ruzek (2016) describe that while adult evaluators use instruments they are trained in to assess teachers, when students are observing a teacher’s instruction, they draw on their primitive ideas of what environmental factors make them feel safe, respected and competent.

Kane and Staiger (2012) conducted a study to analyze how teaching indicators such as classroom observations, student surveys and gains on state tests predicted student outcomes.  They found that teacher observation scores were positively related to their student test scores, particularly when the observation scores of teachers where combined with student’s feedback on their classroom environments. Further research must be done to understand the best approach to collect student feedback, whether in a separate end of semester report or incorporating it into an exam, and how student characteristics influence their teacher evaluation scores.