Can students evaluate teaching quality objectively?

By Anne Boring, OFCE-PRESAGE-Sciences Po and LEDa-DIAL,

The author will present her work at the International Symposium on Gender Bias in the Governance and Evaluation of Research Bodies organized by the EGERA (Effective Gender Equality in Research and the Academia), which will take place on 23 February 2015 at Sciences Po, on the CERI premises in Paris.

Anglo-American universities generally rely on the evaluation of teaching by students to measure teaching quality. They hypothesize that students are the best placed to judge the quality of teaching in that they observe the teachers throughout a course. The evaluations usually serve two purposes. First, they are used as a tool for pedagogical management for the teachers themselves, by providing them with suggestions for improving their teaching; and second, these evaluations are also often used by the administration to make decisions about promotions or the extension of teaching contracts. The evaluations then act as incentives: they encourage teachers to give the best of themselves so as to be rehired the following semester or to obtain a promotion. Continue reading “Can students evaluate teaching quality objectively?”

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In memoriam. Raymond Boudon

By Michel Forsé

Raymond Boudon, Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris Sorbonne, died at the age of 79 on Wednesday, 10 April 2013. It is difficult to summarize so much fruitful work. He was of course the leader of the school of thought known as methodological individualism, which holds that the collective is always the result of rational individual actions. He devoted much of his effort to setting out the foundations for this and attached great importance to the thought of Max Weber. At the beginning of his career, his personal contacts with the American Paul Lazarsfeld led him to develop a formalized and rigorous approach to social facts, in contrast to the structuralism which was so much in vogue at the time and which he disliked. For Boudon, as the title of one of his latest books (2011) suggests, sociology was a science in the strict sense of the term. In a similar vein, he also tried to show in numerous articles and books all the havoc that ideological and cultural relativism could inflict. Continue reading “In memoriam. Raymond Boudon”

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Financing higher education: Should students have to pay?

By Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

Is it necessary to ensure that a greater portion of the cost of higher education is borne by students in the form of higher tuition fees, which might or might not be coupled with loans? It is often argued that financing higher education through taxes is anti-redistributive. We show in a working document that from a life cycle perspective proportional taxation is not anti-redistributive. Continue reading “Financing higher education: Should students have to pay?”

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