Another look at college student’s ratings of course quality: data from Penn State student surveys in three settings

Fern Willits, Mark Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study assessed the relationships of student attributes, course characteristics and course outcomes to college students’ ratings of course quality in three types of settings. The analysis utilised data from online surveys of samples of college students conducted in 2011 and 2012 at the Pennsylvania State University. Included in the analysis were: (1) 1805 students at the main campus; (2) 1453 students at 19 smaller satellite campus locations of the university scattered across the state; and (3) 522 students participating in online degree programmes through Penn State’s World Campus. Students were asked to rate the quality of instruction they received in a randomly selected course in which they had been enrolled during the previous semester, and to respond to a number of questions about the course, the instructor’s behaviour and themselves. The relationships of these factors to how students rated the course were assessed for subjects in the three study settings. In all three settings, student and course characteristics, course difficulty and amount of required work had little effect on course ratings. Grade received was modestly related to course rating. However, instructor’s use of selected recommended pedagogical practices and students’ perceptions of how much they felt they learned were by far the strongest correlates of students’ course evaluations. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-462
Number of pages20
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 3 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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