Evaluating students’ evaluations of professors

This paper contains some bizarre observations:

Michela Braga, Marco Paccagnella, Michele Pellizzari, Evaluating students’ evaluations of professors. Economics of Education Review 41 (214) 71-88.
Abstract: This paper contrasts measures of teacher effectiveness with the students’ evaluations for the same teachers using administrative data from Bocconi University. The effectiveness measures are estimated by comparing the performance in follow-on coursework of students who are randomly assigned to teachers. We find that teacher quality matters
substantially and that our measure of effectiveness is negatively correlated with the students’ evaluations of professors. A simple theory rationalizes this result under the assumption that students evaluate professors based on their realized utility, an assumption that is supported by additional evidence that the evaluations respond to
meteorological conditions.

Meta-analysis of faculty’s teaching effectiveness: Student evaluation of teaching ratings and student learning are not related

An interesting paper:

Bob Uttl, Carmela A.White, Daniela Wong Gonzalez, Meta-analysis of faculty’s teaching effectiveness:  Student evaluation of teaching ratings and student learning are not related. Studies in Educational Evaluation, Volume 54, September 2017, Pages 22-42.

Abstract: Student evaluation of teaching (SET) ratings are used to evaluate faculty’s teaching effectiveness based on a widespread belief that students learn more from highly rated professors. The key evidence cited in support of this belief are meta-analyses of multisection studies showing small-to-moderate correlations between SET ratings and student achievement (e.g., Cohen, 1980, 1981; Feldman, 1989). We re-analyzed previously published meta-analyses of the multisection studies and found that their findings were an artifact of small sample sized studies and publication bias. Whereas the small sample sized studies showed large and moderate correlation, the large sample sized studies showed no or only minimal correlation between SET ratings and learning. Our up-to-date meta-analysis of all multisection studies revealed no significant correlations between the SET ratings and learning. These findings suggest that institutions focused on student learning and career success may want to abandon SET ratings as a measure of faculty’s teaching effectiveness.

The epigraph is great:

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” H. L. Mencken

title = "Meta-analysis of faculty's teaching effectiveness: Student evaluation of teaching ratings and student learning are not related",
journal = "Studies in Educational Evaluation",
volume = "54",
number = "",
pages = "22 - 42",
year = "2017",
note = "Evaluation of teaching: Challenges and promises",
issn = "0191-491X",
doi = "http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stueduc.2016.08.007",
url = "http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191491X16300323",
author = "Bob Uttl and Carmela A. White and Daniela Wong Gonzalez",
keywords = "Meta-analysis of student evaluation of teaching",
keywords = "Multisection studies",
keywords = "Validity",
keywords = "Teaching effectiveness",
keywords = "Evaluation of faculty",
keywords = "SET and learning correlations"

Theorem proving components for educational software

Call for Extended Abstracts & Demonstrations (2nd)
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Theorem proving components for Educational software
6 August 2017
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at CADE26
International Conference on Automated Deduction
6-11 August 2017
Gothenburg, Sweden
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THedu’17 Scope:

Computer Theorem Proving is becoming a paradigm as well as a technological base for a new generation of educational software in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The workshop brings together experts in automated deduction with experts in education in order to further clarify the shape of the new software generation and
to discuss existing systems.

Invited Talk

Francisco Botana, University of Vigo, Spain, “Theorem Proving   Components in GeoGebra”

Important Dates

  • Extended Abstracts: 18 June 2017
  • Author Notification: 2 July 2017
  • Final Version: 16 July 2017
  • Workshop Day: 6 August 2017

Topics of interest include:

  • methods of automated deduction applied to checking students’ input;
  • methods of automated deduction applied to prove post-conditions for particular problem solutions;
  • combinations of deduction and computation enabling systems to  propose next steps;
  • automated provers specific for dynamic geometry systems;
  • proof and proving in mathematics education.


We welcome submission of extended abstracts and demonstration proposals presenting original unpublished work which is not been submitted for publication elsewhere.

All accepted extended abstracts and demonstrations will be presented at the workshop. The extended abstracts will be made available online.

Extended abstracts and demonstration proposals should be submitted via easychair,
formatted according to

Extended abstracts and demonstration proposals should be approximately 5 pages in length and are to be submitted in PDF format.

At least one author of each accepted extended abstract/demonstration proposal is expected to attend THedu’17 and presents his/her extended abstract/demonstration.

Program Committee

Francisco Botana, University of Vigo at Pontevedra, Spain
Roman Hašek, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Filip Maric, University of Belgrade, Serbia
Walther Neuper, Graz University of Technology, Austria (co-chair)
Pavel Pech, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Pedro Quaresma, University of Coimbra, Portugal (co-chair)
Vanda Santos, CISUC, Portugal
Wolfgang Schreiner, Johannes Kepler University, Austria
Burkhart Wolff, University Paris-Sud, France


The extended abstracts and system descriptions will be published as a CISUC Technical Report series (ISSN 0874-338X). After presentation at the conference, selected authors will be invited to submit a substantially revised version, extended to 14-20 pages, for
publication by the Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science (EPTCS).

Ronnie Brown: from Esquisse d’un Programme by A Grothendieck

I just came across again the following (English translation):
 The demands of university teaching, addressed to students (including
those said to be “advanced”) with a modest (and frequently less than mod-
est) mathematical baggage, led me to a Draconian renewal of the themes
of reflection I proposed to my students, and gradually to myself as well.
It seemed important to me to start from an intuitive baggage common to
everyone,  independent of any technical language used to express it,  and
anterior to any such language
– it turned out that the geometric and topo-
logical intuition of shapes, particularly two-dimensional shapes, formed such
a common ground.
(my emphasis)
It seems to me a good idea, and expressed with AG’s usual mastery of language.

Chinese maths textbooks to be translated for UK schools

The Guardian, 20 March 2017. Some quotes:

British students may soon study mathematics with Chinese textbooks after a “historic” deal between HarperCollins and a Shanghai publishing house in which books will be translated for use in UK schools.


HarperCollins signs ‘historic’ deal with Shanghai publishers amid hopes it will boost British students’ performance.


The textbook deal is part of wider cooperation between the UK and China, and the government hopes to boost British students’ performance in maths, Hughes added.

Most likely, an attempt to introduce Chinese maths textbooks in English schools will lay bare the basic fact still not accepted by policymakers. Quoting the article,

Primary school maths teachers in Shanghai are specialists, who will have spent five years at university studying primary maths teaching. They teach only maths, for perhaps two hours a day, and the rest of the day is spent debriefing, refining and improving lessons. English primary teachers, in contrast, are generalists, teaching all subjects, all of the time.

See the whole article here.

What Students Like

A new paper  in The De Morgan Gazette:

A. Borovik, What Students Like, The De Morgan Gazette 9 no.~1 (2017), 1–6. bit.ly/2ie2WLz

Abstract: I analyse students’ assessment of tutorial classes supplementing my lecture course and share some observations on what students like in mathematics tutorials. I hope my observations couldbe useful to my university colleagues around the world. However, this is not a proper sociologicalstudy (in particular, no statistics is used), just expression of my personal opinion.

Call for Nominations for the 2017 ICMI Felix Klein and Hans Freudenthal Awards

From IMCI Newsletter November 2016:

[All nominations must be sent by e-mail to the Chair of the Committee (annasd >>at<< edu.haifa.ac.il, sfard >>at<< netvision.net.il) no later than 15 April 2017.]

Since 2003, the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) awards biannually two awards to recognise outstanding accomplishments in mathematics education research: the Felix Klein Medal and the Hans Freudenthal Medal.

The Felix Klein medal is awarded for life-time achievement in mathematics education research. This award is aimed at acknowledging excellent senior scholars who have made a field-defining contribution over their professional life. Past candidates have been influential and have had an impact both at the national level within their own countries and at the international level. We have valued in the past those candidates who not only have made substantial research contributions, but also have introduced new issues, ideas, perspectives, and critical reflections. Additional considerations have included leadership roles, mentoring, and peer recognition, as well as the actual or potential relationship between the research done and improvement of mathematics education at large, through connections between research and practice.

The Hans Freudenthal medal is aimed at acknowledging the outstanding contributions of an individual’s theoretically robust and highly coherent research programme. It honours a scholar who has initiated a new research programme and has brought it to maturation over the past 10 years. The research programme is one that has had an impact on our community. Freudenthal awardees should also be researchers whose work is ongoing and who can be expected to continue contributing to the field. In brief, the criteria for this award are depth, novelty, sustainability, and impact of the research programme.
For further information about the awards and for the names of past awardees (seven Freudenthal Medals and seven Klein Medals, to date), see http://www.mathunion.org/icmi/activities/awards/the-klein-and-freudenthal-medals/

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Misha Gavrilovich: Expressing the statement of the Feit-Thompson theorem with diagrams in the category of finite groups

Misha Gavrilovich’s paper Expressing the statement of the Feit-Thompson theorem with diagrams in the category of finite groups, available from

is a follow-up to his paper in The De Morgan Gazette,

M. Gavrilovich, Point-set topology as diagram chasing computations, The De Morgan Gazette, 5 no. 4 (2014), 23-32

The paper raises important questions about optimal approaches to exposition of elementary group theory: quite a number of group-theoretic concepts (for example, solvable, nilpotent group, p-group and prime-to-p group, abelian, perfect, subnormal subgroup, injective and surjective homomorphism) can be expressed as diagram chasing in the category theoretic language.