Measurement & Evaluation
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Teaching Evaluation Services
Room 247 Armory
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(217) 244-3846


Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Teaching Evaluation: ICES Myths & Misperceptions

Below we highlight common misperceptions regarding student ratings of instructors and courses. Researchers have been studying student ratings since the 1920s. Over 2,000 studies have looked into the reliability and validity of student ratings of instruction. We know quite a bit about ICES-type systems. The results may surprise you. If you have general questions about how ICES works at UIUC, please see our ICES FAQ page.

PLEASE NOTE: While our office feels that ICES is a sound system for the evaluation of teaching, we don't pretend that it is a perfect system. Teaching evaluation, like teaching itself, is a complex endeavor. ICES is a start toward measuring the quality of instruction, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. We encourage individual faculty members and academic units to employ ICES along with other measures of teaching effectiveness like classroom observations, focus groups, document review, learning outcomes assessment, and informal feedback surveys.

Top Misperceptions about ICES

Here we list the most frequent issues instructors have about student ratings systems like ICES. Click on one of the highlighted quotes below to see what the research has told us about each topic.

  • Myth 1: If I'm an entertaining instructor then my ICES results will be great. ICES seems to measure student enjoyment, not teaching effectiveness.

  • Myth 2: I know who gets the best ICES scores—those teachers that give all As. If you're an easy grader then your ICES results will be high.

  • Myth 3: Student ratings are not connected to student learning. You should measure the amount my students have learned, not whether they like me.

  • Myth 4: My students don't appreciate my teaching now, but in the future they'll realize that I was good. Ask them after they've graduated and you'll get the real scoop on my teaching.

  • Myth 5: Students don't know what good teaching is, especially good content. Peers, rather than students, are a better source for teaching evaluations.

  • Myth 6: Student ratings are notoriously unreliable. Most students just can't agree on what is good teaching.

  • Myth 7: If I assign a lot of work, my ratings will be low. It's clear that high workloads lead to low ICES ratings.

  • Myth 8: ICES can only hurt me. It is never used to help me.

  • Myth 9: It is easier to receive high student ratings in elective courses, but I teach highly required courses and thus I receive lower ratings. That's not fair.

  • Myth 10: Global items (‘Rate the instructor’s overall teaching effectiveness’ and ‘Rate the overall quality of this course’) are not useful in evaluating teaching.

Other Concerns About ICES? 

Please feel free to contact our office with any other concerns or thoughts you might have about ICES.

Phone: 217-244-3846