Vanderbilt University’s Qualitative-Based Faculty Assessments

Vanderbilt University is trying to determine if the qualitative portion of faculty assessments can be better utilized to identify outlier faculty – both your highest and lowest performers.

Reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Vanderbilt University’s findings were that in order to identify your best and worst professors for any given course, you need to look for the superlative language in your written reviews. Severely positive or negative language. One department at Vanderbilt saw a pattern of negative language for two specific instructors, so they adjusted the materials and the professors themselves. The subsequent student evaluations improved, enrollment in both courses increased, and the poorly reviewed professors were moved to courses they were better suited for.

The takeaway here? Don’t only rely on quantitative data to find your highest and lowest performers. Review the qualitative data and determine the professors that create passionate reviewers either way in order to spot your strongest and weakest faculty faster, and improve your overall student experience.


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Eric Olsen

Eric brings more than a decade of award-winning creative brand development, marketing analytics and higher education experience to Helix Education. Eric is a graduate of Bradley University and earned his MBA at Lewis University.