Dimitris Politis writes: Many IMS members are educators, and thus care about improving and evaluating teaching. In the last three decades, student evaluations of classroom teaching have played a prevalent role in the US, although opinions are mixed on whether the overall effect has been positive. It goes without saying that such feedback can be very important. But sometimes university administrators interpret student evaluations as if they were customer responses; that can be problematic because education serves a higher cause, and students are not clients. One typical administrator faux-pas is disregarding all information in the student questionnaire except the (last) question: “Would you recommend the instructor to other students?” Of course, ignoring valuable information provided by the other questions is inexcusable from a statistical, or just common-sense, viewpoint. Even more importantly, the effort by an instructor to score good evaluations may result in student pampering and an inadvertent lowering of the level of the course—a long-term loss for society as a whole.

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