Natural advantages

June 12, 2014

Graham Gibbs argues for the validity of students’ instructional evaluations of their professors as measures of teaching quality “You don’t have to guess at who’s doing well”, Teaching intelligence, 5 June). He also says “…and so this is not a beauty contest”. Actually, it is: research for the US, corroborated for Germany, demonstrates that better-looking teachers are evaluated more favourably than their less good-looking peers.

The importance of beauty does not vitiate the role of good teaching in student evaluations. It does mean that using student evaluations for hiring and promotion decisions requires being somewhat careful about their meaning and perhaps even adjusting for the instructors’ probably irrelevant looks. This is especially important in lower-level classes, as the research demonstrates that the role of beauty is greater where students are less able to discern how well the instructor understands the material and can exposit it.

Daniel S. Hamermesh
Royal Holloway, University of London

David de Meza
London School of Economics

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

Cricket player and umpire exchanging bribe

The need to accommodate foreign students undermines domestic practices, says Lincoln Allison, spying parallels between UK universities and global sports bodies such as Fifa