Are student ratings of communication instructors due to “easy” grading practices? An analysis of teacher credibility and student-reported performance levels

Michael Beatty, Christopher J. Zahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations


Research indicates that student ratings of mathematics and science instructors are significantly lower than those of their counterparts in social science and the humanities. Frequently, communication instructors’ ratings are among the highest in their respective colleges. Unfortunately, these high ratings sometimes arouse suspicion among administrators and colleagues regarding whether highly rated courses are sufficiently rigorous. A considerable body of research literature suggests that expected grade is unrelated to students’ ratings of instructors. Furthermore, most studies show positive relations/tips between student generated ratings and indices of course difficulty. The present study examined the relationship between teacher credibility and various student perceptions about the instructor and course within the context of communication courses. Although teacher credibility was positively correlated with students’ (1) overall rating of the level of excellence of the course and instructor and (2) intentions to take more courses from the instructor, recommend the course and instructor to peers, and take more communication courses from other instructors, the correlations between teacher credibility and student-reported levels of course performance were uncorrelated at the end of the semester. Implications regarding the independence of student ratings of teacher credibility and self-reported performance are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-282
Number of pages8
JournalCommunication Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1990
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Education

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