Evaluating A Math Instructors Clarity: An Analysis Of Low-To-Moderate Items Versus A High Inference Item

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Kelly D. Bradley
James W. Bradley



Instructors and students identify communication skills as being essential to successful classroom teaching and student learning. This study investigates the stability of student evaluations with respect to items related to instructor’s clarity. The majority of student evaluations completed at the end of a semester at the college level contain a question directly related to clarity. A pilot study was conducted which utilized four finite mathematics courses being taught by the same instructor. After assessing reliability and validity, a follow-up study was conducted utilizing four sections of introductory statistics employing the same design as the pilot. Ninety-four students completed some component of the researcher-constructed evaluation resulting in an overall 96% response rate. Seventy-one students completed the entire evaluation, allowing for a comparison between the high inference and the low-to-moderate inference items used to measure instructor’s clarity, resulting in a useable response rate of 72%. After a statistical transformation of the high inference item, descriptive statistics were produced for each type of item. Through a t-test, a statistically significant difference was found between the high and low-to-moderate clarity items. The difference between the types of clarity ratings was then analyzed via ANOVA techniques to explore differences by gender and expected course grade. Males tended to rate the instructor inconsistently, assigning lower ratings for the low-to-moderate inference items, while other ratings appear to demonstrate consistency.


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