Slim evidence for slander

November 17, 2011

I read with interest your coverage of the study suggesting the inverse relationship between teaching quality, broad educational student-focused outcomes and associated university rankings ("Topsy-turvy ranking in social science teaching", 10 November).

It doesn't seem credible to undertake this type of research if the leap-of-faith conclusion is that good teaching is the "exception rather than the rule" in universities at the higher end of the rankings. Take a look at the National Student Survey: despite its foibles, every higher education institution participates, the sample is massive, the teaching-related questions are pretty clear and the results, for some, are startlingly consistent over time.

There is excellent teaching in every university, so let's get away from league table slander, especially if the evidence is so limited.

Steve Gaskin, National teaching fellow, University of Exeter

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