Student Evaluation of Instruction, Data Mining, General Education Courses


The purposes of this study were to: (a) determine, for General Education Program (GEP) courses, what individual items on the student form are predictive of the overall instructor rating value; (b) investigate the relationship of instructional mode, class size, GEP foundational area, and GEP theme with the overall instructor rating value; (c) examine what teacher/course qualities are related to a high (Excellent) overall evaluation or a low (Poor) overall evaluation value. The data set used for analysis contained sixteen student response scores (Q1-Q16), response number, class size, term, foundational area (communication, cultural/historical, mathematics, social, or science), GEP theme (yes/no), instructional mode (face-to-face or other), and percent responding (calculated value). All identifying information such as department, course, section, and instructor was removed from the analysis file. The final data set contained 23 variables, 8,065 course sections, and 294,692 student responses. All individual items on the student evaluation form were related to the overall evaluation item score, measured using Spearman's correlation coefficients. None of the examined course variables were selected as significant when the individual form items were included in the modeling process. This indicated students employed a consistent approach to the evaluation process regardless of large or small classes, face-to-face or other instructional modes, foundational area, or percent responding differences. Data mining modeling techniques were used to understand the relationship of individual item responses and additional course information variables to the overall score. Items one to fifteen (Q1 to Q15), class size, instructional mode, foundational area, and GEP theme were the independent variables used to find splits to create homogenous groups in relation to the overall evaluation score. The model results are presented in terms of if-then rules for 'Excellent' or 'Poor' overall evaluation scores. The top three rules for 'Excellent' or 'Poor' based their classifications on some combination of the following items: communication of ideas and information; facilitation of learning; respect and concern for students; instructor's overall organization of the course; instructor's interest in your learning; instructor's assessment of your progress in the course; and stimulation of interest in the course. Proportion of student responses conforming to the top three rules for 'Excellent' or 'Poor' overall evaluation ranged from 0.89 to .60. These findings suggest that students reward, with higher evaluation scores, instructors who they perceive as organized and strive to clearly communicate course content. These characteristics can be improved through mentoring or professional development workshops for instructors. Additionally, instructors of GEP courses need to be informed that students connect respect and concern and having an interest in student learning with the overall score they give the instructor.


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Graduation Date



Witta, E. Lea


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education


Educational and Human Sciences

Degree Program









Release Date

August 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Education Commons