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Engineering Faculty’s Perceptions of Student Bias in Higher Education
This study investigated the engineering faculty perceptions of student bias in a variety of classroom settings, specifically from the point of view of both male and female students. The goal was to show perceived differences between how male and female students rate professors. This is especially relevant as teaching evaluations are a crucial part of tenure and promotion cases. The study used a survey comprised of 25 questions that assessed the level of positive and negative bias for male and female students when evaluating teaching. Forty-eight faculty members from the engineering department of a midwestern university completed the survey. There was also an interview that asked 8 questions about the faculty’s experience with bias and gender bias. Of the forty-eight faculty members who completed the survey, 10 were interviewed. Data from the survey was analyzed using one-way ANOVA tests, as well as descriptive statistics. Qualitative data was obtained from the coded interviews. Results showed that the faculty’s perceptions positioned male students as more positively biased when evaluating male faculty and were more negatively biased towards female faculty, than their female counterparts. Class size also was found to contribute to bias, as class size increases led to increasing perceived negative bias. This study finds that more research should be done to establish a method of removing bias from teaching evaluations, so that course evaluations only reflect teaching ability.