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UT Austin students award high marks to their University teachers

Instructor evaluations completed at UT Austin by students last spring reveal that at every college on campus students rate their teachers “Very Good” or higher.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Instructor evaluations completed at UT Austin by students last spring reveal that at every college on campus students rate their teachers “Very Good” or higher.

The Measurement and Evaluation Center at The University of Texas at Austin released the results this week to delighted campus officials.

Notably, the scores for graduate student teachers — master’s degree and doctoral candidates who work as teaching assistants and assistant instructors — were just as good. At every college on campus, undergraduate students likewise rated their teaching assistants and assistant instructors “Very Good” or higher. In many cases, graduate student teachers were rated as high or higher than faculty.

“UT takes pride in the programs we have developed for training our graduate student instructors,” said Dr. Teresa A. Sullivan, vice president and dean of graduate studies. “We believe they are among the very best in the nation in their preparation. And they have a zest and enthusiasm for their subject matter that is contagious.”

Nevertheless, the myth still persists that TAs and AIs don’t teach well. Why? Perhaps because when TAs and AIs do their jobs well, their students just assume the instructors are full faculty members. One graduate student teacher explains:

“Students only think about their teachers being graduate students when they’re unhappy about something in class. If everything is fine — if we’re teaching well, grading fairly, spending time in office hours — then students assume that we’re full faculty. Because of that assumption, you just never hear about the great teaching that grad students are doing on campus at UT every day,” said Erika Allen, an assistant instructor in the College of Communication.

The Measurement and Evaluation Center calculated its findings by averaging undergraduate answers to the question: “Overall, this instructor was ____.” Students selected one of the following answers: Excellent = 5; Very good = 4; Satisfactory = 3; Unsatisfactory = 2; Very Unsatisfactory = 1. College averages ranged from 4.0 to 4.5 for TAs and AIs; from 4.0 to 4.4 for faculty.

For more information, contact: Erika Allen, Office of the Vice President and Dean of Graduate Studies, (512) 471-4511.